Reviews for Civil War A to Z : A Young Readers' Guide to over 100 People, Places, and Points of Importance


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 July 2002
Gr. 4-8. Bolotin provides an excellent overview of the people, places, events, and concepts one needs to know about the U.S. Civil War. The entries average two paragraphs in length, with longer ones for subjects requiring more explanation. Battles are listed under their most common name, with other designations in parentheses: "Bull Run, Battle of (Manassas in South)." A wide-ranging account such as this runs the risk of being sketchy and incomplete, but Bolotin has a good eye for what students need to understand about the war and provides a great deal of information, skillfully whittled down to its most salient points. Topics range from Stonewall Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and the Battle of Gettysburg to medical care, black soldiers, and Clara Barton. The format is attractive, with numerous photographs. A glossary and a time line are appended, as is an author's note, attached to a reading list, which advises students how to find information on a topic when faced by an overwhelming amount of material. Buy one copy to circulate and a second one for reference. ((Reviewed July 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 December #1
Marrin's biography of our first president is packed with information, but is problematic in its presentation. In his characteristically epic style, he portrays an intriguing George Washington: militarily inexperienced, socially retreating, but with a hard edge that helped him to gain wisdom through his mistakes and earn respect as a commander. Copiously documented, the narrative should inspire readers to learn more about Washington. But Marrin undercuts his own authority with several stylistic problems. He regularly uses sweeping statements that, without clarification or context, are debatable ("Great Britain ruled the mightiest empire in all of human history"), or illogical, e.g., "Had it not been for Charles Lee, Washington might have won the war that day. Because of Lee, it would drag on for another five years." (Lee may well have kept the war from ending that day, but he himself did not have anything to do with its ultimate length.) In an unusual comparison he suggests that "a war dance was like a ‘pep rally' before a college football game." He relies on the present tense to lend drama to his scenes, in a way that can only be considered fiction ("At once, a plan formed in the British General's mind"), or that makes an interpretation but presents it as fact ("Someone, undoubtedly without his [Washington's] permission, had driven a pole into the ground amid the corpses"). Marrin's style makes for dramatic reading here and there, but his narrative is long and often bogged down in details, and he eventually undermines any dramatic tension by overusing his tricks. The book is well illustrated on nearly every page with black-and-white reproductions of etchings, drawings, and maps; notes, a bibliography, and index (not seen) complete it. Marrin's book may be useful to young readers for its extent of documented information, but they may find better reading elsewhere. (Nonfiction. 12+) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 June #1
This alphabetically arranged reference work on the Civil War is a handy guide. Readers can open up anywhere and find interesting bits of information on many of the major people, places, and events of the Civil War. The 130 topics, from Abolitionists to Zouaves, include Lincoln and his mission of keeping the country united, the political ferment represented by the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the soldiers, generals, prisons, and literature of the time. The format invites flipping through the pages, studying maps, reading captions, and reading the entries. Not just an encyclopedia of battles, generals, and politicians, the guide includes people as various as Louisa May Alcott, Mary Chesnut, Dorothea Dix, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass, and objects such as lucifers, minie balls, and Civil War tokens. The Gettysburg Address and excerpts from the Emancipation Proclamation, letters, and speeches are also provided. The entries are competently written and interesting. Browsing through this guide may well lead young readers to studying topics more fully, which is the author's hope. Useful for young readers beginning research on Civil War topics. (glossary, author's note, bibliography, maps, archival photographs, illustration and photo credits) (Nonfiction. 9+) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 July
Gr 5-8 This well-written resource contains biographies of key people, information on major battles, and a general introduction to the era. The alphabetically arranged entries are easy to understand, covering all the important issues, and the black-and-white photos and reproductions add immensely to the text. Even readers familiar with the era will find fresh facts here. The personal profiles use small anecdotes to illustrate the individual's character. For example, the entry on George Pickett talks about the depression that plagued him for the rest of his life after the Battle of Gettysburg. One small flaw is that the "see" references are often not circular. The article on John Ericsson leads readers to one on the Monitor and Merrimack; however, that article is not linked back to the one on Ericsson. The same is true of the articles on Stephen Douglas and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful introduction for readers unfamiliar with the subject, and will be especially useful for reports. -Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2001 April
This book is as much a history of the forming of the United States as it is a biography of Washington. Marrin provides a balanced portrait of Washington, documenting the life of a man who wanted only to be at home caring for his land and family but ended up spending years away from home, fighting one battle after another. Although he often seemed aloof, Washington really cared for his men and his country, putting their needs before his own. Much of the book is filled with descriptions of the battles Washington had to fight and of the people fighting at his side and against him. Some material is taken from diaries and letters. Marrin also highlights Washington's changing views about slavery and how the need for slaves impacted the way southern states reacted during the forming of the Republic. This rendering is a more complete picture of the man and the times than many history books offer. The illustrations from paintings and drawings of the period give a feel for the era. This complete resource will be used mostly for assignments, but those teens who like biography or are interested in American history will enjoy it. After finishing Marrin's account, readers will feel that they have actually met the man. This book is a fine addition to both public and school library collections.-Deborah L. Dubois. Index. Illus. Maps. Source Notes. Further Reading. 4Q 2P J S Copyright 2001 Voya Reviews

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VOYA Reviews 2003 February
The last book in Bolotin's seven-volume Young Readers' History of the Civil War series provides an excellent and astute reference source for middle school and junior high readers. Starting with Abolitionists and ending with Zouaves (regiments in both the Union and Confederacy known for their "brilliantly colored uniforms"), Bolotin hits all the major points and personalities of the Civil War with concise, clear, and informative entries. Many firsthand accounts are included along with statistical information, meeting the author's goal to "share the personal stories [of the war], not just the facts and figures and the important dates." The result is a reference work more accessible than many others available. As a research tool, this volume is first-rate, although reading the book cover to cover would likely produce confusion for those not already familiar with the Civil War. The brevity of most entries provides an excellent introduction to many aspects of the war. Bolotin successfully addresses a variety of topics in a reader-friendly manner. For instance, when discussing the 600,000 people who died in battle during the war, Bolotin includes a sidebar that reveals that "the Union and Confederate dead would fill 2,000 theaters, 13 major league baseball stadiums . . . or more than 1,000 elementary schools." Surely this book will fulfill Bolotin's stated hope that his work "becomes the impetus for studying" more about the era.-Sarah Dornbeck. Glossary. Illus. Photos. Maps. Source Notes. Biblio. Chronology. Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews

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