Reviews: History

BEFORE COLUMBUS: THE AMERICAS OF 1491.

By Charles Mann and Rebecca Stefoff.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6 Up—
In this beautifully illustrated and concise adaptation of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus(Vintage, 2006), Mann paints a superb picture of pre-Columbian America. In the process, he overturns the misconceived image of Natives as simple, widely scattered savages with minimal impact on their surroundings. Well-chosen, vividly colored graphics and photographs of mummies, pyramids, artifacts, and landscapes as well as the author’s skillful storytelling will command the attention of even the most reluctant readers. Eye-catching sidebars and oversize chapter headings seem to pop from the pages. Mann constructs the narrative around three crucial questions that continue to confound historians today: Was the New World really new? Why were the Europeans successful? What ecological impact did Natives have on their surroundings? From the pre-Columbian genetic engineering of maize to the existence of pyramids older than the Egyptian variety, Mann’s lucid answers to these questions represent current scholarly opinion and point the way toward future exploration and discovery. Students and teachers will benefit greatly from this engaging exploration of America’s most overlooked and misunderstood historical periods.—Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL


CITIES AND TOWNS and EXPLORATION AND SETTLEMENT

“Stefoff skillfully interweaves world events that led up to the European exploration race of the 15th and 16th centuries and shares illuminating biographies of the key explorers of the period. . . . The author’s conversational tone and generous use of full-color maps, illustrations, and sidebars will engage readers . . . . Stefoff gives curious students plenty of opportunity to explore the topics with her Primary Source List and suggested books and Web sites. First purchases for elementary and middle schools in search of engrossing and well-researched books about Colonial America.”

School Library Journal


FINDING THE LOST CITIES

“Stefoff . . . blows the dust off 13 of archaeology’s greatest triumphs, and the careers of the scientists and adventurers who forged them during the field’s ‘heroic age’ . . . . To the often-told tales of Schliemann at Troy, Evans at Knossos, and Layard at Nineveh, Stefoff adds plenty of lesser-known discoveries . . . . [T]he currency of her information, the expertise with which she picks out intriguing details, plus the trenchant contrast she draws between the destructive methods of early treasure hunters and today’s careful scientists, make this must reading for students of the past.”

— — Kirkus Reviews, starred

“This lively survey of . . . buried and rediscovered cities is spellbinding. The aspiring archaeologists on your list will cherish such a book.”

Smithsonian

“A title that’s sure to spark interest in vanished civilizations and in archaeology, with its mix of dramatic discoveries and careful deducations.”

School Library Journal, starred

Finding the Lost Cities details 13 buried and rediscovered cities around the world, from Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East to Southeast Asia and the Americas. Rebecca Stefoff uncovers the passion of the archaeologists who searched for these cities and the drama of the find, offering a fascinating glimpse into the nature of the civilizations that populated each of the lost cities.”

London Free Press


THE YOUNG OXFORD COMPANION TO MAPS AND MAPMAKING

“Whether you’re looking for a clearly written definition of ‘latitude’ or an informative introduction to Native American mapmakers, this comprehensive and intriguing encyclopedia of cartography holds the answer. . . . Featuring attractive reproductions of antique maps, portraits, pertinent photographs, and easily comprehensible diagrams, the illustrations are plentiful, informative, and fascinating. Fun to browse and filled with useful information, this exhaustive encyclopedia will make an invaluable reference tool.”

School Library Journal

“The Young Oxford Companion to Maps and Mapmaking, a splendid resource for any subject related to geography, is as appealing for browsing as it is for research.”

VOYA


THE EXTRAORDINARY EXPLORERS SERIES

“This series of books carries a vigorous sense of adventure and curiosity. Up mountains, across deserts, through rain forest and even into space the prose strides forward with clarity and enthusiasm. It is a celebration of human endeavour and achievement which should convey to young people a feeling of responsible optimism about striking out for something new. It promotes the kind of individualism that has a good reason for being different.”

London Times Education Supplement

THE NORTH AMERICAN HISTORICAL ATLASES SERIES

“In these beautifully illustrated titles, Stefoff explores the people and events that shaped our nation. She offers an unbiased look at how history was molded by groups and the hopes, dreams, and hard work of individuals.”

School Library Journal


INDEPENDENCE AND REVOLUTION IN MEXICO

“Authoritative, balanced, concise, insightful, witty – even readers who are usually bored by history will be drawn into this lively account of the formation of modern Mexico.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred

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