Interesting anecdotes mitigate the missed opportunities in this history.



Primary sources enliven this history of the New York state refugee camp that housed nearly 1,000 people displaced by the Nazis.

In 1944, a U.S. Navy ship brings 982 displaced people from Italy to New York’s Fort Ontario in Oswego. The vast majority—874—are Jews, the rest are Christians, and all are refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe. They’re the beneficiaries of a far too limited American program to help some victims of horrific persecution. Augmented by photographs and drawing on first-person accounts and government records, this is a history of European refugees, many of whom are death-camp survivors, who exist in a middle ground between immigrant and prisoner. They’ve signed agreements acknowledging that they’re “guests” who aren’t allowed to work and who’ll be returned to Europe at the war’s end. But it’s still upsetting that they’re confined in the camp. In creating the camp, the War Relocation Authority drew on its expertise in running the Japanese concentration camps (called “internment camps” in the text) in the U.S.; after pointing this out, the history doesn’t ask any of the uncomfortable questions thus raised. The judgment of the government’s treatment of the White (by American standards, if not by German) refugees is mostly positive. A brief introduction to nativism and “America First” policies yields to praise of the friendships between New Yorkers and the refugees. Quoted primary sources aren’t always well-contextualized in the text.

Interesting anecdotes mitigate the missed opportunities in this history. (epilogue, timeline, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64160-383-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct.



An illustrated overview of life’s history on Earth, moving backward from now to its beginnings 3.5 billion years ago.

Zoehfeld begins with the present epoch, using the unofficial Anthropocene moniker, then skips back 12,000 years to the beginning of the Holocene and so back by periods to the Ediacaran and its predecessors, with pauses along the way to marvel at the widespread End-Cretaceous and End-Permian extinctions. Along with offering general observations about each time’s climate and distinctive biota, she occasionally veers off for glances at climate change, food webs, or other tangential topics. In each chapter she also identifies several creatures of the era that Csotonyi illustrates, usually but not always with photographic precision in scenes that are long on action but mostly light on visible consumption or gore. If some of the landscape views are on the small side, they do feature arresting portraits of, for instance, a crocodilian Smilosuchus that seems to be 100% toothy maw and a pair of early rodents resembling fierce, horned guinea pigs dubbed Ceratogaulus. Though largely a gimmick—the chapters are independent, organized internally from early to late, and could be reshuffled into conventional order with little or no adjustment to the narrative—the reverse-time arrangement does afford an unusual angle on just how far deep time extends.

Nothing to roar over but a pleaser for fans of all things big, toothy, and extinct. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912920-05-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Still, for armchair tourists, a broad if rosy picture of our neighbor to the north.


Arrays of small color photos, cartoons and occasional comic-book pages provide visuals for a young traveler’s lively if superficial account of a quick province-by-province drive across Canada.

Bowers’ travelogue is similar in tone and content but aimed at a younger audience than her Wow Canada (2010) (and proceeds east to west before looping north, rather than the reverse). She takes her 9-year-old narrator to cities, roadside attractions and natural wonders from Cape Spear to Iqaluit. The child's observations are interspersed with side comments (“We walked around the lake until the mosquitoes had sucked all our blood”) and brief info-dumps from tour guides, a fact-loving little cousin and others. Simplification leads to some misinformation (no, the West Edmonton Mall is not the “world’s biggest,” nor is it strictly accurate to claim that Lake Michigan is “the only [great] lake not in Canada”). Ultimately and unfortunately, readers will come away knowing much more about regional foods (“Tried eating haggis. Big mistake”) and other artifacts of European settlement than newer immigrant populations or even, until the chapter on Nunavut, First Nations.

Still, for armchair tourists, a broad if rosy picture of our neighbor to the north. (maps, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-77049-255-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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