The author of A Capital For The Nation (1990) presents another American symbol in a skimpy history of the US's most important patriotic holiday. Hoig approaches the subject from two directions: a lively, if episodic, account of how the Declaration of Independence's ratification came to be commemorated, sandwiched between reminders that the ideals celebrated on the Fourth are ones we are still struggling to live up to. The choice of detail reads like a set of historical snapshots, parades, and parties (toasting each state was a common practice until the number of states began to exceed the human capacity for drink) alternating with more somber events (the nearly simultaneous deaths of Jefferson and Adams, the battles of Gettysburg and Little Big Horn). The narrative is further padded with side trips to the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument, a discussion of discrimination that recapitulates points made elsewhere, and the Declaration's complete text. Meanwhile, the 20th century gets six pages, with little or nothing on recent traditions, the efforts to preserve the Declaration physically, or even how fireworks came to be associated with the Fourth. Many of the b&w photos and reproductions are muddy (and misplaced) space- fillers. A weak alternative to James Cross Giblin's Fireworks, Picnics and Flags (1983). (index, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-525-65175-6

Page Count: 81

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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With an emphasis on Western “makers” of the millennium, and, perhaps inevitably, deep coverage of the last 200 years and fleeting coverage of the first few centuries, this volume offers brief biographical sketches of 1,000 people who had an impact on the last 1,000 years. Profusely illustrated and printed on heavy glossy stock, this is a coffee table book for children, meant to be dipped into rather than read from start to finish. Organized chronologically, with a chapter for each century, the parade of people is given context through a timeline of major events, with those of particular importance discussed in special boxes. As with any effort of this kind, there are surprising omissions (the publisher is creating a website for readers’ own suggestions) and inclusions, a Western predominance that grows more pronounced in the later centuries, and an emphasis on sports and celebrity that finishes off the last few decades. The selection can seem highly subjective and provocatively arbitrary, e.g., the US presidents from Nixon back to Teddy Roosevelt are all covered, but none after Nixon. Still, there is a clear effort to include a wide variety of countries and cultures, and this ambitious effort will be the starting point for many historical journeys. (chronology, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-4709-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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