An intriguing but flawed attempt at narrative innovation.

BRINGING DOWN A PRESIDENT

THE WATERGATE SCANDAL

President Richard Nixon’s downfall as a result of the Watergate scandal is vividly recounted in a screenplay-style narrative.

In Balis and Levy’s narrative, contextual paragraphs identified as “Fly on the Wall” are separated from direct quotes taken from Nixon, his administration, the Watergate burglars, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, and members of Congress. The purpose of choosing this narrative format is never explained, nor is it readily apparent. Many of Nixon’s lines and those of his staff come from transcribed Oval Office recordings. It’s inventive all right, but there are some odd inclusions. Is it necessary to know that Howard Hunt urinated in a whiskey bottle while hiding in a closet? What use is it to know what John Dean’s wife wore on each day during his weeklong testimony before Congress? Why do the authors need to identify who ate what when Nixon, John Mitchell, and Bob Haldeman met for lunch? Perhaps worse are the exclusions. In recounting Nixon’s political career, the authors note he made a name for himself “fighting communists with Senator Joe McCarthy,” but there is no explanation of how fraudulent and destructive McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade was, nor that it was specifically Nixon’s role in the Alger Hiss trial that got him noticed. In lieu of photographs and archival material are Foley’s interpretive black-and-white illustrations, which bring a graphic-novel–esque flair to the design.

An intriguing but flawed attempt at narrative innovation. (timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-17679-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history.

MOTOR GIRLS

HOW WOMEN TOOK THE WHEEL AND DROVE BOLDLY INTO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Well-documented proof that, when it came to early automobiles, it wasn’t just men who took the wheel.

Despite relentlessly flashy page design that is more distracting than otherwise and a faint typeface sure to induce eyestrain, this companion to Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (2011) chronicles decided shifts in gender attitudes and expectations as it puts women (American women, mostly) behind the wheel in the first decades of the 20th century. Sidebar profiles and features, photos, advertisements, and clippings from contemporary magazines and newspapers festoon a revved-up narrative that is often set in angular blocks for added drama. Along with paying particular attention to women who went on the road to campaign for the vote and drove ambulances and other motor vehicles during World War I, Macy recounts notable speed and endurance races, and she introduces skilled drivers/mechanics such as Alice Ramsey and Joan Newton Cuneo. She also diversifies the predominantly white cast with nods to Madam C.J. Walker, her daughter, A’Lelia (both avid motorists), and the wartime Colored Women’s Motor Corps. An intro by Danica Patrick, checklists of “motoring milestones,” and an extended account of an 1895 race run and won by men do more for the page count than the overall story—but it’s nonetheless a story worth the telling.

Macy wheels out another significant and seldom explored chapter in women’s history. (index, statistics, source notes, annotated reading list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2697-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A slim volume big on historical information and insight.

COME ON IN, AMERICA

THE UNITED STATES IN WORLD WAR I

A wide-ranging exploration of World War I and how it changed the United States forever.

Students who know anything about history tend to know other wars better—the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam. But it was World War I that changed America and ushered in a new role for the United States as a world political and economic leader. Two million Americans were sent to the war, and in the 19 months of involvement in Europe, 53,000 Americans were killed in battle, part of the staggering total death toll of 10 million, a war of such magnitude that it transformed the governments and economies of every major participant. Osborne’s straightforward text is a clear account of the war itself and various related topics—African-American soldiers, the Woman’s Peace Party, the use of airplanes as weapons for the first time, trench warfare, and the sinking of the Lusitania. Many archival photographs complement the text, as does a map of Europe (though some countries are lost in the gutter). A thorough bibliography includes several works for young readers. A study of World War I offers a context for discussing world events today, so this volume is a good bet for libraries and classrooms—a well-written treatment that can replace dry textbook accounts.

A slim volume big on historical information and insight. (timeline, source notes, credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2378-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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