Freedman once again demonstrates his incomparable mastery of presenting complex, sweeping historical subjects in an engaging, dynamic narrative. Using his signature photo-essay format, the author examines the first modern global war that inflicted mass slaughter. He lucidly explains the complicated political situation that led to war and discusses how the first use of modern weapons such as aircraft, flame throwers, long-range artillery, machine guns, poison gas and tanks used in a war fought with old-style strategies and tactics resulted in horrific carnage. Especially vivid is the graphic depiction of trench warfare. Focusing primarily on Western Front campaigns, the narrative effectively interweaves the big picture of the war’s causes and consequences with intimate stories of individual German and Allied soldiers drawn from reports, letters and diaries. In the concluding chapter, the Newbery, Sibert and Wilder Award winner offers a brilliantly concise discussion of the direct connections between the “Great War” and the causes of the Russian Revolution, World War II and conflict in the Middle East. Carefully documented in appended chapter notes, the text is illustrated throughout with maps and stunning photographs. (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-02686-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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A useful work of scientific history.



Intertwining stories of the often ignored female scientists whose research led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

Montillo begins with Marie Curie, the one female physicist most people can name. After identifying, isolating, and purifying the first known radioactive elements—radium and polonium—she and her husband, Pierre, shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics. Readers may not be aware that fellow French scientists conspired to keep her name off the award, believing incorrectly that she only assisted Pierre. Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, would also win a Nobel Prize for her work with radioactive elements. Austrian Jew Lise Meitner fled to Stockholm to escape the Nazis, where she did mathematical work proving the possibility of nuclear fission. As World War II progressed, America began to explore the possibility of weaponizing nuclear energy, and the Manhattan Project began. American physicist Leona Woods helped perform the first nuclear chain reaction while Joan Hinton built elements of the first nuclear reactor. Montillo tells their stories—along with those of many other women—in this comprehensive work. The narrative bounces back and forth in time, sometimes in ways that may confuse readers, and, unfortunately, it ends with the nuclear bombs falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—it would have been nice to read something about what these women achieved afterward. Still, the book is lively, well-researched, and comprehensible.

A useful work of scientific history. (author’s note, timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48959-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire.

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The epic tale of the siege of Leningrad and its native son, composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose seventh symphony comforted, consoled, and rallied a population subjected to years of unspeakable suffering.

Anderson vividly chronicles the desperate lengths residents went to, including acts of cannibalism, to survive the Wehrmacht’s siege, a 3-year-long nightmare that left more than 1 million citizens dead. The richly layered narrative offers a keen-eyed portrait of life in the paranoid, ruthlessly vengeful Stalinist Soviet Union, its citizens living under a regime so capriciously evil that one could be heralded a hero of the motherland one day and condemned as a traitor the next. The storytelling is captivating, describing how Shostakovich began composing the symphony under relentless bombardment in Leningrad and later finished it in Moscow, its triumphant performance in Leningrad during the siege, and how it rallied worldwide sympathy for Russia’s plight. Music is at the heart of the story. As Anderson writes in the prologue, “it is a story about the power of music and its meanings,” and he communicates them with seeming effortlessness in this brilliantly written, impeccably researched tour de force.

A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire. (photos, author’s note, sources notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6818-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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