A thoughtful, insightful, challenging and extensively researched chronicle of United States history and the shaping of...

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BOUNDARIES

HOW THE MASON-DIXON LINE SETTLED A FAMILY FEUD AND DIVIDED A NATION

In this richly layered, thoroughly researched history of the Mason-Dixon Line, Walker crisscrosses the boundaries of geography, culture, economics, science, mathematics, politics and religion to reveal that drawing lines is as likely to cause conflict as settle it.

The story of the boundary lines surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon is just one thread of this sweeping historical chronicle. The storied boundary is most associated with the divide between the North and the South and the bloody history wrought by that line, but Walker reveals a fascinating and complicated history of exploration, family feuds, persecution, ideological conflicts, scientific experimentation and advancement, and the forging of a national identity. Beginning in the 16th century and ending in the present, the account of the Mason-Dixon Line often serves as a window into some of the pivotal developments of American history. The author ably makes the case that “[t]he many boundary journeys found in the complete story of the Mason-Dixon Line are relevant today.” Abundant use is made of quotations from primary sources, and many photographs and archival images enrich the narrative.

A thoughtful, insightful, challenging and extensively researched chronicle of United States history and the shaping of national identity from a unique perspective. (maps, photographs, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5612-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING U.S. MISSION TO RESCUE THE PRICELESS STALLIONS KIDNAPPED BY THE NAZIS

A singular spotlight on the concerted World War II effort to save Lipizzaner stallions.

Letts (The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation, 2011, etc.), a lifelong equestrienne, eloquently brings together the many facets of this unlikely, poignant story underscoring the love and respect of man for horses. The horses in question were rare Arabian thoroughbreds introduced to Europe by the Ottoman Turks in the late 17th century and subsequently bred in Poland. The Bolsheviks had slaughtered nearly the whole stock in 1917, deeming them the “playthings of princes,” though the Polish stud stable at Janów Podlaski was finally beginning to thrive again by the time of the Russian-Nazi invasion of Poland in late 1938. Two important equine sagas, handled well by the author, converge here: the German takeover of the Janów stud farm, led by German Olympic organizer Gustav Rau, in order to reassemble the Polish horse-breeding industry for the glory of the Third Reich, which desperately needed horses for mounted troops; and the attempts to save the working Lipizzaner stallions at the aristocratic Spanish Riding School in Vienna, led by Alois Podhajsky, who had won the bronze medal in dressage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Under Rau, the stud farm was moved to Hostau, Czechoslovakia, by October 1942, and put under the care of Polish civil servant Hubert Rudofsky, who successfully increased the number of bred Lipizzaners by 1944. With Allied bombs falling on German cities, and eventually Vienna, Podhajsky determined that his horses had to be moved to safety, eventually housed in the village of St. Martin, Austria, yet the Nazi-controlled Austrian government was loathe to relinquish control of such a symbol of Austrian determination. Enter the Americans, specifically Maj. Hank Reed of the 2nd Calvary, which had traded in tanks for horses to fight the Nazis across France, and the exciting meeting of Gen. George Patton’s army at Hostau.

The author’s elegant narrative conveys how the love for these amazing creatures transcends national animosities.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54480-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead.

THE PERFECT HORSE

THE DARING RESCUE OF HORSES KIDNAPPED DURING WORLD WAR II

Letts adapts her bestselling 2016 work of the same title for young readers.

As World War II sweeps across Europe, the fates of several master horsemen become entwined. In Poland, Andrzej Kristalovich, head of the national stud farm, sees his life’s work disappear when Russian soldiers capture his horses. Nazi Germans, invading next, restore some of the animals in order to breed them for the Third Reich. Meanwhile, in Vienna, Olympic medalist Alois Podhajsky is desperately trying to care for the Lipizzan stallions at the famed Spanish Riding School even as the invading Germans capture the Lipizzan stud farms and move most of the horses to Czechoslovakia. Meanwhile, at an American Army base in Kansas, Maj. Hank Reed is overseeing the cavalry’s transition from horses, no longer useful in warfare, to mechanized vehicles. These threads come together at the end of the war when Reed orchestrates a complex rescue of both sets of horses. This is not a particularly successful adaptation. It’s shorter than the original, but both the storyline and timeline are fragmented, making it difficult for the putative audience of 8- to 12-year-olds to follow, and extraneous details fail to advance the main narrative. Aside from a map and archival images (both not seen), there is no timeline or other visual aid to help organize the narrative. Characters are all white.

If readers can make sense of this story, they’re likely able to tackle the original instead. (author’s note, characters, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64474-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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