Monumental Milestones Book Reviews

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School Library Journal

On Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954, and FDR and the New Deal

These books feature brief chapters and "FYInfo" page-length sidebars that provide additional information. Captioned photos and illustrations, chapter notes, and bibliographies supplement the texts. In Brown v. Board, Hinton devotes separate chapters to the five cases that were combined for argument and decision in the Supreme Court and then discusses and analyzes the ruling and its impact. FDR describes the financial meltdown of the Great Depression, provides a brief biography of Roosevelt, and lists the landmark legislation of his first hundred days in office. It also discusses the successes and failures of the New Deal and closes with a brief comparison of the Great Depression and the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Booklist, February 2010

On Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954

From the Monumental Milestones: Great Events of Modern Times series, this slim volume provides short accounts of the five cases (originating in South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia as well as Kansas) that were combined and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court as Brown v. Board of Education. The book's final chapter describes the Court's historic ruling and its effects on school desegregation in the U.S. Sidebars present information on topics such as the education for African Americans in the U.S. and the integration of Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. The book's many photos portray the people mentioned as well as the 1950s setting. Back matter includes a chronology, a black history time line, a glossary, and chapter notes. Though the book's page design, using pink and lavender, is unattractive, and the text could have been more tightly edited, students looking for a brief, illustrated book on the subject may find this a useful resource.

School Library Journal, June 2009

On The McCarthy Era and Building the Panama Canal

These detailed treatments quite ably describe their respective histories. The issues involved (ill-fated construction in Panama Canal and post-World War II concerns with rising powers in McCarthy Era) are outlined in an objective tone, yet the books are as interesting as they are informative. In each one, five short chapters are interspersed with "For Your Information" pages, adding entries on the first people to consider a waterway through the isthmus of Panama, the Suez Canal, why canals have locks, and an overview of the project of the title (in Panama Canal); and the Cold War, the WWII campaign in the Pacific, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Edward R. Murrow (in McCarthy Era). The texts are further extended by well-placed black-and-white photographs, editorial cartoons, and period drawings. These titles are sound purchases for larger collections.

Booklist, April 2009

On The Clinton View: The Historic Fight for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination and The Obama View: The Historic Fight for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination

The Monumental Milestones series looks at important events, in this case the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The focus here is on the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but the books also cover the many twists and turns of the campaign. The Clinton View begins with the Iowa caucus, the effect the loss had on front-runner Clinton, and how her win in New Hampshire made her the second Clinton "comeback kid." Then, the book goes back to Clinton's early years, her academic successes, and her tenures as First Lady and senator. As memory of the 2008 elections fades, this detailed account will be useful. The Obama View is clearly and crisply written. Starting with Obama's career in Illinois politics, the book then details his unlikely journey to the presidency, starting with his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia. The final chapter deals with the presidential election and doesn't shy away from such issues as the way race was an election subtext. One of the best things about this series is its well-chosen full-page sidebars; they allow space for important topics like the effect of the Internet on the election, Obama's books, and caucuses. The design is lively and colorful, and the photos will draw readers., January 2009

On The McCarthy Era

The McCarthy Era tells the story of Joseph McCarthy and the issue that made him a household word—the search to bring to light communists in our midst. The book, written by journalist Kathleen Tracy, is part of the Monumental Milestones: Great Events of Modern Times series, a reference volume aimed at grades 4-6.

The McCarthy Era was the product of Joseph McCarthy, one of the most notorious politicians in United States history. Obsessed with routing out communists, McCarthy persecuted thousands of innocent Americans, destroying careers and ruining lives. His tactics of making public accusations based on innuendo instead of proof became known as 'McCarthysim.' From the time he was a child growing up in Wisconsin, McCarthy burned with ambition. As a teenager he started his own business; he earned his high school diploma in less than a year; and he became the youngest circuit court judge in state history. When he was elected to the U.S. Senate, he became the youngest senator in Congress.

By the 1950s, average Americans viewed communism as a direct threat to their democratic way of life. McCarthy played on those fears to persecute anyone supsected of having communist affiliations. His crusade brought him power and fame and ultimately led to his stunning public downfall.

The McCarthy Era relates the story of McCarthy in an even-handed manner, giving children a sense of the times without being sensationalist. The author, having written numerous books for this publisher, is experienced writing at this reading level for this audience, using numerous photographs, some of them in color, to help children visualize the topic, break up the text, and make the book more interesting.

Lane Educational Service, December 2008

On The Story of the Great Depression

As part of Mitchell Lane Publishers' Monumental Milestones series, The Story of the Great Depression by Mona Gedney is an excellent introduction to that time period in U.S. history for middle to high schoool readers. The writing flows logically and smoothly after grabbing the reader's attention in the first chapter with photographs and a description of men, women, and children from all walks of life standing in food lines across the country. The following four chapters build a time line by showing important events that built one upon the other, from the beginning to the end of the depression. Each chapter is punctuated with an FYI Info page about related subjects, such as the building of the Empire State Building, the Dust Bowl, and the Day of Infamy (Pearl Harbor). The book has a table of contents, glossary, and index, along with a Chronology of the Great Depression, Timeline in History, Chapter Notes, and referrals to books and websites for more information. It is in hardback with lay-flat, reinforced binding and is rated: 5.

Lane Educational Service, December 2008

On The Story of the Holocaust

This is an amazing non-fiction story about the Holocaust. It tells about the gathering of the Jews by the Nazis and Adolf Hitler's plot to kill them all. There is so much information in this book, stories of people who were sent to the work camps and survived; stories of people who had loved ones who did not survive. I enjoyed this book and learned many things that I did not already know. It is very informative and will be a valuable resource book for study or research. Some of the stories are a bit graphic, but not enough to keep the book from being of great value to younger students who have an interest in the Holocaust. I rated this book a 5 and would recommend it for every library that serves children. Though it is 4-6 grade reading level, it would be a great book to have at any age level.

Lane Educational Service, December 2008

On An Overview of World War I

The political and strategic events of The Great War are examined in this non-fiction book by author Jim Whiting. Beginning with the political and geographical atmosphere of early 20th Century Europe, Whiting takes his readers through the key events leading to the outbreak of war before detailing the experiences and contributions of politicians and soldiers alike. Throughout the book, side stories under the heading "For Your Information: FYI" describe in further detail persons and events of interest, such as Germany's Red Baron and Britain's new battleships called Dreadnoughts. This book does an excellent job conveying both the political aspects of this devastating war as well as depicting the horrors and bloodshed of trench warfare. The sentence structure is concise and easy to read. The back of the book contains several fantastic tools for readers, such as a chronology, historical time-line, glossary, and a guide for further reading. Engaging and well organized, the book is further enhanced by vivid pictures and colorful maps that help the reader gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Parents should be aware, however, that this is a historical book which deals with the realities and brutalities of war. Although this subject is treated accurately and responsibly, this book is unsuitable for younger readers. I would enthusiastically recommend this book for older children who enjoy learning about United States and/or world history and who are emotionally ready to approach the serious topics of war and global politics.

Lane Educational Service, January 2008

On The Cuban Missile Crisis: The Cold War Goes Hot

This hardcover book has historic pictures of world leaders and events that help the reader to understand the cold war beginning with end of World War II and the mistrust between the United States and Russia. The book goes on to explain the events between Russia, Cuba and Europe that led to The Warsaw Pact, how the Soviet Union secretly installed missiles in Cuba with nuclear warheads that could destroy America and how then President Kennedy confronted Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev at a summit in Austria. With nuclear war a possibility this book accurately expresses the tension as the two nations posture for war, but ultimately strike a deal to disarm the warheads in exchange for a guarantee that America would not invade Cuba. I found this book to be very easy to understand and clear in recalling the events that shaped the Cold War. I am rating this book a 4, excellent choice.

Lane Educational Service, January 2008

On Top Secret: The Story of the Manhattan Project

This is one topic in a series called Monumental Milestones: Great Events of Modern Times. This one begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and ends with the bombing of Hiroshima. There are many full-page sidebars to give context to the main ideas involved as well as information on individuals important to the development of the atomic bomb. There is a chronology, timeline, chapter notes, and a list of both print and internet resources included.

Lane Educational Service, January 2008

On The Scopes Monkey Trial

This title in the Monumental Milestones: Great Events of Modern Times series is the perfect size for report writing. The FYI pages, which are a signature of many of the Mitchell Lane series, include information about Darrow and Bryan and even the movie “Inherit the Wind”. Given that evolution is still a hot button issue, this could be a useful source of information. A chronology, timeline, index and chapter notes with web references add to the book's value as a jumping-off point for research.

School Library Journal, April 2006

On The Cuban Missile Crisis: The Cold War Goes Hot and The Story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

These titles make first-rate alternatives to the numerous same-topic volumes available for this audience. Supported by frequent, relevant photographs and maps, as well as generous lists of recent and classic multimedia resources, both books combine absorbing narratives with sharp cause-and-effect analysis. Seeing the Cuban missile crisis as a gambit rooted in Khrushchev's belief that Kennedy "wasn't very tough," Whiting describes the tense diplomatic back-and-forthing in detail (during which Kennedy does come off as indecisive), then closes with a poker-faced note about the fact that Castro has outlasted every other world leader of his day. In Pearl Harbor, the author not only covers the attack in detail, but he also highlights a series of turning points—from Matthew Perry's electrifying 19th-century visit to Tokyo to "five of the most decisive moments in the history of warfare" during the battle of Midway, which also turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. Single-page sidelights illuminate such historical byways as the brief, seldom mentioned "takeover" of a tiny Hawaiian island by a downed Japanese pilot, further broadening the appeal of these well-founded assignment titles.

School Library Journal, February 2007

On An Overview of World War I and The Scopes Monkey Trial

Considering the complexity of the topics, these titles do a remarkable job of presenting brief, understandable discussions. Five chapters each conclude with an FYI page featuring a person or topic, such as "The Battle of Jutland" (World War I) and "Drugstores as Social Centers" (Scopes Trial). Vintage photos add interest.

School Library Journal, November 2006

On The Watergate Scandal and The Sinking of the Titanic

Watergate traces the events that led to Nixon's impeachment and resignation beginning with the start of the Vietnam War. Titanic chronicles the ship's fated voyage from design to destruction. While this topic is not new, Whiting offers a good introduction to the tragedy. He incorporates the new findings currently being argued, such as whether or not the sinking was due to the ship's design flaws or human misjudgment. Short chapters and the small trim size will appeal to readers who shy away from longer "report" books. However, the sophistication of the content (Watergate is particularly challenging as there are many players to keep straight) and the high reading level will put these titles outside of the range of less proficient readers. Overall, these are good supplemental purchases to round out collections.

Booklist, October 2005

On Disaster in the Indian Ocean: Tsunami 2004

This slim but dense volume in the Monumental Milestones: Great Events of Modern Times series emerges from the author's personal trip to Indonesia after the December 26, 2004, catastrophe, "where he witnessed the devastation firsthand and spoke to dozens of survivors." Primary-source accounts, many taken from Torres' own interviews, chillingly re-create the tsunami's initial strike, its chaotic aftermath, and the challenges of recovery. Photos and sidebars break up the text; end matter includes a time line, source citations for quotes and an earnest author's note.