A serviceable biography of one of the US’s most extraordinary citizens, but not nearly in the class of Barbara Cooney’s Eleanor (1996) or Russell Freedman’s Eleanor: A Life of Discovery (1993). Westervelt has to sustain a breathless pace to fit the rich story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life into these pages. She begins with the image of the golden-haired, painfully shy child, whose plainness was disdained by a beautiful mother, and whose adored, alcoholic father was mostly absent. She found refuge in study and in service to others from a very young age; when she married her cousin Franklin, she was given away by her uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt. That began decades of public life during which she supported her husband as he rose through public offices to the presidency, raised their children, fought off a domineering mother-in-law, and carved out her own life of tireless speaking, writing, and social action. Westervelt touches very lightly on the subject of Lucy Mercer and Eleanor’s possible liaisons, keeping the focus on the tremendous number of activities Eleanor undertook during WWII and beyond Franklin’s death. The lengthy biography unaccountably leaves off Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book; this is a useful biography, but not a magical one. (index) (Biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-888105-33-X

Page Count: 142

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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In The Young Oxford History of African Americans series, a thoroughly researched, thoughtfully written history starting with the first Africans on the continent to American blacks during the Revolution. The subtitle, ``African Americans 16171776,'' is misleading: Wood (for adults, Black Majority, 1974, etc.) begins around 1500, with the emergence of the Spanish slave trade. From there, he traces the role of Africans in the earliest settlements in North America and describes the different policies towards them under Spanish, French, Dutch, and British jurisdiction. The rest of the book—illustrated with black-and-white maps, reproductions, and photographs—deals with the early history of American slavery, specifically with the institutionalization of racism. At the same time, Wood looks at the culture and everyday life of slave communities, illustrating his narrative with a number of intriguing biographies. While his selection of facts and figures is illuminating throughout, what makes the work a particular pleasure are Wood's inspired discussions; he ably links facts and puts them into larger contexts for readers. An obscure chapter in American history, rendered vividly. (chronology, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-19-508700-3

Page Count: 125

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1995

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In the summer and fall of 1845, a plant fungus hit Ireland. In the following seven years, one million people died and another one-and-a-half million people fled the country. It was one of the terrible disasters of the 19th century, the magnitude of which will surprise most readers. This first-person account of the time is derived from oral-history projects such as that conducted in the 1940s by the Irish Folklore Commission, which collected stories from children and grandchildren of survivors. Unlike the photographic record of American slavery and the Holocaust, no known photographs of the Great Hunger exist. Lyons combines oral history with paintings from the period and sketches made by newspapermen who traveled the country in 1847. Young readers may be confused by the inclusion of photographs when the author states in the first section that no photographs of the period exist; however, the photographs she uses date from the end of the 19th century, when the fungus struck again. This attractive volume seems insubstantial on its own but will make a good match with Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s recent Black Potatoes (p. 1419), which tells the story of the famine in greater depth. Lyons emphasizes that hunger is still a worldwide problem. In 1995, six million children under the age of five died from lack of nutritious food. As Lyons says, “The Irish famine is worth remembering when hunger organizations ask us to help them feed the children first.” This will be a useful volume for library collections on Ireland, immigration, cities, hunger, and the 19th century. (Web sites, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84226-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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