America, the really brave;Reviews;Subject of the week;History;Cross phase;Reviews

5th November 1999 at 00:00
HISTORY OF AMERICA SERIES INNINE VOLUMES. By Sally Senzell Isaacs. Heinemann pound;10.99 each.

America fascinates the young. Its vigour and optimism make it a place where great things can happen, and Sally Senzell Isaacs picks up these themes for a well thought-out and broadly accessible History of America (meaning the United States) from the earliest times.

Only four of the nine volumes of this chronologically-based series have been published so far, and all follow the same pattern of strong narrative based around significant individuals, such as Pocahontas and Washington, and backed-up by explanations of a range of social, political, technological and industrial trends.

The sturdy, hardback covers and clear, simple text make this series excellent for primary and secondary school libraries. Double page spreads, generously illustrated with artists' reconstructions (sometimes a bit Disney-esque) and good, clear cut-away diagrams of ships, buildings and economic activities, make it accessible to the most reluctant of readers.The more able can delve deeper and use the primary sources and boxes of notes and timelines.

Isaacs takes cause and effect in history seriously. The political and economic explanation of the War of Independence is admirably clear, and the conflict between the settlers and Native Americans is confronted with neither outrage nor sentimentality.

This is a genuine and well-produced history for children.

Sue Jones has taught history at secondary level.

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