AS VARIOUS AS THEIR LAND

THE EVERYDAY LIVES OF EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY AMERICANS

Less vivid and detailed than the five earlier volumes in the ``Everyday Life in America'' series (Harvey Green's The Uncertainty of Everyday Life 1915-1945, etc.), this last installment emphasizes diversity of American experience during the transitional 18th century. During the 1700's, America grew from ten colonies on the Eastern seaboard, consisting of a quarter-million people preoccupied with survival and their European origins, to 16 states expanding westward, consisting of five million citizens developing a national identity. Here, Wolf (Research Fellow/University of Pennsylvania) is concerned with the commonplace experiences that made up that identity: the organization of daily life and of private time; the habits, attitudes, and occupations of ordinary people—their entertainments and responsibilities, what they ate and wore, and how they furnished their homes. Grouping people by families, occupations, and communities, Wolf also distinguishes them according to class and geography: New England Puritans, Middle Atlantic farmers, Southern plantation owners, Native Americans, African-Americans, pioneers, craftsmen, merchants, and professionals. In a chapter called ``The Invention of Childhood,'' the author's awareness of the diversity of experience is especially revealing, emphasizing the different conceptions of children—from the ``pets'' of the Virginia aristocracy to the laboring children of German immigrants. Wolf concludes by studying community as neighborhood and as network, the development of communications, and the role of the Church in regulating communal life. Using diaries, magazines, and letters, Wolf does some historical housekeeping here, setting things in order, polishing, arranging, and simplifying. A useful resource.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-016799-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?

more