A well-researched and spirited slice of history.

An in-depth look at the events that led to the connected stories of the United States flag, the national anthem, and an important military victory.

The United States was a vulnerable young nation when the War of 1812 plunged it into conflict with Great Britain. The British navy targeted the Chesapeake Bay and the city of Baltimore for attack, both for its proximity to Washington and the shipbuilding that occurred there. Grove provides comprehensive background about both nations’ underlying military strategy. The actual story about the commission of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry is explored in great detail, as is the confluence of events that found Maryland-born attorney Francis Scott Key on a ship during battle, the aftermath of which inspired him to write the words that became the national anthem. Grove provides a page-turning narrative that enhances the familiar aspects of this story and fills in those little-known areas. He paints a full picture of Key’s attitudes toward slavery as well as of Mary Pickersgill and how she came to take on the task of making a somewhat unusual flag. In addition to details about shipbuilding and military planning, he weaves in the role of enslaved fighters who ran away to the British, who promised freedom, forming the Colonial Marines. Generous archival illustrations and the rich and varied backmatter make this a boon for fledgling historians.

A well-researched and spirited slice of history. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4102-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020




Logically pointing out that the American cowboy archetype didn’t spring up from nowhere, Sandler, author of Cowboys (1994) and other volumes in the superficial, if luxuriously illustrated, “Library of Congress Book” series, looks back over 400 years of cattle tending in North America. His coverage ranges from the livestock carried on Columbus’s second voyage to today’s herding-by-helicopter operations. Here, too, the generous array of dramatic early prints, paintings, and photos are more likely to capture readers’ imaginations than the generality-ridden text. But among his vague comments about the characters, values, and culture passed by Mexican vaqueros to later arrivals from the Eastern US, Sadler intersperses nods to the gauchos, llaneros, and other South American “cowmen,” plus the paniolos of Hawaii, and the renowned African-American cowboys. He also decries the role film and popular literature have played in suppressing the vaqueros’ place in the history of the American West. He tackles an uncommon topic, and will broaden the historical perspective of many young cowboy fans, but his glance at modern vaqueros seems to stop at this country’s borders. Young readers will get a far more detailed, vivid picture of vaquero life and work from the cowboy classics in his annotated bibliography. (Notes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6019-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000




An introduction to ancient Egypt and the Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings. The authors begin with how archaeologist Howard Carter found the tomb of King Tut, then move back 3,000 years to the time of Thutmosis I, who built the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Finally they describe the building of the tomb of a later Pharaoh, Ramses II. The backward-forward narration is not always easy to follow, and the authors attribute emotions to the Pharaohs without citation. For example, “Thutmosis III was furious [with Hatshepsut]. He was especially annoyed that she planned to be buried in KV 20, the tomb of her father.” Since both these people lived 3,500 years ago, speculation on who was furious or annoyed should be used with extreme caution. And the tangled intrigue of Egyptian royalty is not easily sorted out in so brief a work. Throughout, though, there are spectacular photographs of ancient Egyptian artifacts, monuments, tomb paintings, jewels, and death masks that will appeal to young viewers. The photographs of the exposed mummies of Ramses II, King Tut, and Seti I are compelling. More useful for the hauntingly beautiful photos than the text. (brief bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7922-7223-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001