Book Review: Who Was John F. Kennedy by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough Title: Who Was John F. Kennedy Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2005. Summary/Review: Continuing our way through the “Who Was…?” series with my son.  This book again shows the series’ ability to be age-appropriate, but to also offer honest appraisals of their subjects.  I was particularly impressed by the details of…

Book Review: SPQR : A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard


Author: Mary Beard Title: SPQR : a history of ancient Rome Publication Info: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a Division of W.W. Norton & Company, 2015. Summary/Review: Beard attempts the very difficult, a single volume history of Ancient Rome, and succeeds. There’s the evolution from Republic to Empire (which is not the clean split it often appears…

Book Review: What Was the First Thanksgiving? by Joan Holub


Author: Joan Holub Title: What Was the First Thanksgiving? Publication Info: Grosset & Dunlap (2013), 112 pages Summary/Review: This is a simple but honest children’s history of the settlers of Plymouth Colony and the Wampanoag people and what really happened on that first Thanksgiving.  There’s a fair amount of myth-busting as well as using surviving records to…

Book Review: 1493 : Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann


Author: Charles C. Mann Title: 1493 : Uncovering the new world Columbus created Narrator: Robertson Dean Publication Info: Random House Audio (2011) Previously Read by Same Author: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus Summary/Review: A sequel of sorts to 1491, this book investigates the wide-ranging impact of contact between Eurasia & Africa and the Americas and…

Photopost: Old Sturbridge Village


To celebrate the beautiful weather our autumnal holiday, I wanted to get out of the city, get the kids outdoors, and enjoy some foliage. We go to do all three with a visit to Old Sturbridge Village, where we also witnessed an ox plowing competition, rode on a stagecoach, watched a musketry demonstration, and was…

Book Review: Hark! : a Vagrant by Kate Beaton


Author: Kate Beaton Title: Hark! : a Vagrant Publication Info: Drawn and Quarterly (2011), Edition Previously read by the same author: Step Aside, Pops! Summary/Review: This is the first collection of the hilarious webcomics on historical and literary themes from the brilliant Kate Beaton.  I was going to post links to my favorites but I lost the file so…

Book Review: The Games by David Goldblatt


Author:  David Goldblatt Title:   The Games Narrator: Napoleon Ryan Publication Info:  Tantor Audio (2016) Summary/Review: I received a free audiobook copy of The Games through the Library Things Early Reviewers program. Goldblatt’s history of the modern Olympic Games from 1896 to the present is a top-down overview of the International Olympic Committee and organizing committees more…

Book Reviews: Who was Franklin Roosevelt? by Margaret Frith


Author: Margaret Frith Title: Who was Franklin Roosevelt? Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2010. Summary/Review: A good introductory biography of one of America’s greatest Presidents.  It’s not warts and all, but like many books in this series it includes some of Roosevelt’s failures as well as his success.  Another great historical read with my…

Book Review: What was the Alamo? by Pam Pollack


Author: Pam Pollack Title: What was the Alamo? Publication Info: New York, New York, USA : Grosset & Dunlap, an Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., [2013] Summary/Review: The Alamo is something this northeasterner only knew the vague details about, so I was pleased to read this children’s history book with my son.  Interesting details include the…

Book Review: What Were the Twin Towers? by Jim O’Connor


Author: Jim O’Connor Title: What Were the Twin Towers Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Random House, [2016] Summary/Review: Following on the Hurricane Katrina book, my son and I read this history of the World Trade Center in New York City.  The book is a full history of the Twin Towers…

Book Review: What Was Hurricane Katrina? by Robin Koontz


Author: Robin Koontz Title: What Was Hurricane Katrina Publication Info: New York New York : Grosset & Dunlap, An Imprint of Penguin Random House, [2015] Summary/Review: I find it easier to work through difficult issues through books so I was impressed when my son picked out out this history of Hurricane Katrina written for children.  The book does a…

Book Review: Who Was Louis Armstrong by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough Title: Who Was Louis Armstrong Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2004. Summary/Review: The life of musician and icon Louis Armstrong is explored at a kids level, focusing mostly on his early life up to the 1930s.  Armstrong grew up in poverty in New Orleans and spent time in a reform…

Book Review: Who Was Jesse Owens by James Buckley, Jr.


Author: James Buckley, Jr. Title: Who Was Jesse Owens Publication Info: New York, NY : Grosset & Dunlap, 2015. Summary/Review: Jesse Owens is well-known as a legendary track and field star who was a pioneer for black athletes, attending Ohio State University, going to the Olympics, and winning four gold medals.  Much is made of Owens being…

Book Review: Who Was Annie Oakley by Stephanie Spinner


Author: Stephanie Spinner Title: Who Was Annie Oakley Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2002. Summary/Review: I keep learning things I never knew from my son’s biographies of notable people.  Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter and that was all I knew about her.  Turns out she made an interesting life out of her skill traveling around…

Book Review: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann


Author: Charles C. Mann Title: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus Narrator: Peter Johnson Publication Info: Minneapolis, Minn. : Highbridge Audio, p2005. Summary/Review: This book attempts to reconstruct what the world of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere was like before contact with the Europeans.  Often what the first conquerors and colonists saw was…

Book Review: The Great Bridge by David McCullough


Author:  David McCullough Title: The Great Bridge  Narrator: Nelson Runger Publication Info: Recorded Books (2006) Previously Read by the Same Author: John Adams, 1776, and The Wright Brothers Summary/Review: What’s the longest period that a book has been on your “to read” list before you actually read it?  For me, it may be 33 years as I got a copy…

Book Review: Who was Johnny Appleseed? by Joan Holub


Author:  Joan Holub Title: Who was Johnny Appleseed? Publication Info: New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2005. Summary/Review: Another children’s biography that I read to my son that ended up teaching me about someone I knew little about.  John Chapman, Massachusetts born, moved to the frontier to raise apple orchards and sell seeds and seedlings to the…

Boston By Foot Jamaica Plain Walking Tour 7/21 @ 6 PM


Next week, Thursday July 21 at 6 pm, I will be one of the guides leading the Boston By Foot walking tour of Jamaica Plain. Yes, two of my favorite things – historic walking tours of Boston and my home neighborhood – will come together for ONE NIGHT ONLY! Regular readers of this blog will…

Book Review: Amsterdam : a history of the world’s most liberal city by Russell Shorto


Author: Russell Shorto Title: Amsterdam : a history of the world’s most liberal city Narrator: Russell Shorto Publication Info: Random House Audio, 2013 Summary/Review: Shorto’s history of the Dutch city of Amsterdam is built on a principle that the city defines liberalism in both senses of the word.  There’s economic Liberalism – the principle of laissez-faire in free…