The core beliefs of the US’s founding fathers are presented in this anthology from Bennett (The Book of Virtues for Young People, 1995, etc.), adapted from his Sacred Honor (1997). Sifting through original letters, speeches, and private papers of the founders, Bennett assembles original sources around seven topics: “Patriotism and Courage,” “Love and Courtship,” “Civility and Friendship,” “Education of the Head and Heart,” “Industry and Frugality,” and “Justice and Piety.” There are some gems; readers will delight in the love letters between Abigail and John Adams wherein Abigail asked John to list her faults so that she might improve herself. While some of the notions presented are old-fashioned, students will find useful—not only for research purposes—the lessons of how to be a good friend, a good citizen, and a successful businessperson. (appendix, chronology, index) (Anthology. 12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-689-82106-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.



A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story.



A classic framing of this country’s history from a multicultural perspective, clumsily cut and recast into more simplified language for young readers.

Veering away from the standard “Master Narrative” to tell “the story of a nation peopled by the world,” the violence- and injustice-laden account focuses on minorities, from African- Americans (“the central minority throughout our country’s history”), Mexicans and Native Americans to Japanese, Vietnamese, Sikh, Russian Jewish and Muslim immigrants. Stefoff reduces Takaki’s scholarly but fluid narrative (1993, revised 2008) to choppy sentences and sound-bite quotes. She also adds debatable generalizations, such as a sweeping claim that Native Americans “lived outside of white society’s borders,” and an incorrect one that the Emancipation Proclamation “freed the slaves.” Readers may take a stronger interest in their own cultural heritage from this broad picture of the United States as, historically, a tapestry of ethnic identities that are “separate but also shared”—but being more readable and, by page count at least, only about a third longer, the original version won’t be out of reach of much of the intended audience, despite its denser prose.

In either iteration, a provocative counter to conventional, blinkered views of our national story. (endnotes, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60980-416-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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