It’s a STEM World: U.S. & World History Series

From engineering feats to plane crashes and Brexit, the following selections represent a range of time periods, attitudes, and movements.

Many of the history series this season focus on successes and failures during wars and protests and in science labs and other unexpected places. Several sets parlay high-interest topics into thoughtful meditations on cause and effect, change, and influence. From engineering feats to plane crashes and Brexit, the following selections represent a range of time periods, attitudes, and movements. In addition, famous people in various fields are not forgotten. Most of these books will be of use to report writers, and some will be eagerly enjoyed by casual browsers, too.


Bakshi, Kelly. Perspectives on the Women’s Rights Movement. ISBN 9781632354051.

Deal, Heidi. Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement. ISBN 9781632353986.

MacCarald, Clara. Perspectives on European Colonization of America. ISBN 9781632354006.

McNeilly, Linden K. Perspectives on the Great Depression. ISBN 9781632354013.

Mooney, Carla. Perspectives on the Industrial Revolution. ISBN 9781632354020.

Rea, Amy C. Perspectives on the Dust Bowl. ISBN 9781632353993.

Streissguth, Tom. Perspectives on Reconstruction. ISBN 9781632354037.

––––. Perspectives on Westward Expansion. ISBN 9781632354044.

ea vol: 32p. (Perspectives on U.S. History). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. 12 Story Library. Apr. 2018. lib. ed. $31.35.

Gr 3-6 –Spanning several periods of U.S. history, these six volumes recount topical events, albeit in a flawed manner. Throughout, the content is often vague and inaccurate, leading to unnecessary confusion. For example, in Westward Expansion, little distinction is made between indigenous Mexicans and Spanish colonizers: “A number of people from Mexico settled in the Southwest during the 1600s.” The passive voice is used throughout Civil Rights Movement (“They believed black people were inferior”) and mentions local businesses often (on the 1963 Children’s Crusade: “Businesses in the area suffered”). The featured images in each title are in line with those in existing books on these topics. VERDICT Most collections will want to skip.

Beevor, Lucy. The Invention of the Airplane. ISBN 9781515798415.

––––. The Invention of the Computer. ISBN 9781515798422.

––––. The Invention of the Telephone. ISBN 9781515798439.

––––. The Invention of the Television. ISBN 9781515798446.

ea vol: 32p. (World-Changing Inventions). charts. chron. diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $27.32.

Gr 3-5 –This succinct but comprehensive series introduces the histories of groundbreaking inventions. In Airplane, readers learn the history of flight from Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine to modern jets; Computer traces the evolution of the machine from its humble beginnings as an abacus to modern laptops. In each volume, technical information is provided, which will greatly enhance readers’ understanding of the magnitude of the achievements. The images, a mix of photos and diagrams, are of good quality and often demonstrate the concepts explained in the text, rather than merely depicting them. ­VERDICT History meets STEM in these thorough volumes. A fine addition to most collections.

Bethea, Nikole Brooks. Chernobyl. ISBN 9781620319161.

––––. Deepwater Horizon. ISBN 9781620319185.

Fretland VanVoorst, Jenny. Challenger. ISBN 9781620319147.

––––. Hindenburg. ISBN 9781620319208.

––––. Titanic. ISBN 9781620319222.

ea vol: 24p. (Man-Made Disasters). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $25.65.

Gr 1-4 –The authors recount the tragic circumstances of a number of devastating events in simple, straightforward language. Readers learn how the cold weather affected the rockets on the Challenger and that laws requiring more lifeboats were made after the Titanic sank. The books are easy to read, if not overly engaging. The images are a mix of stock and archival photographs, with most about a page in size. VERDICT Suitable introductions for young readers. Purchase as needed.

Blake, Kevin. Creating Titanic. ISBN 9781684024308.

––––. Titanic’s Fatal Voyage. ISBN 9781684024322.

Giannini, Alex. Titanic’s Passengers and Crew. ISBN 9781684024315.

Goldish, Meish. Discovering Titanic’s Remains. ISBN 9781684024346.

––––. Titanic’s Last Hours. ISBN 9781684024292.

Merwin, E. A Haunted Titanic. ISBN 9781684024339.

ea vol: 32p. (Titanica). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bearport. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –Young Titanic fans will reach for these six volumes that cover almost every facet of the ship and its sinking. In Last Hours, for example, several diagrams and cutaways illuminate the various inner workings and levels of the boat and how exactly the iceberg damaged the vessel. Kids will learn of the ship’s construction, the passengers (many of whom were rich and famous), the fatal collision, and even related ghosts and mysterious hauntings. In all of the books, the language is clear, and there are ample brightly colored drawings and photographs to complement the text. VERDICT A well-crafted presentation of a timeless topic. Expect a high demand from Titanic aficionados.

Camisa, Kathryn. Long and Orange. ISBN 9781684024803.

Markovics, Joyce. Colossal and Concrete. ISBN 9781684024810.

––––. Grand and Busy. ISBN 9781684024841.

––––. Green and Spiky. ISBN 9781684024780.

––––. Historic and Lively. ISBN 9781684024827.

––––. Shiny and Soaring. ISBN 9781684024834.

––––. Tall and Sleek. ISBN 9781684024797.

––––. White and Majestic. ISBN 9781684024858.

ea vol: 24p. (American Place Puzzlers). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bearport. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $25.64.

PreS-Gr 2 –These attractive volumes introduce young readers to historical sites across the United States. Using simple, easy-to-read text, the authors present modern engineering feats, like the Hoover Dam and the Statue of Liberty, piece by piece. All of the titles follow a similar format: readers are given multiple photographic and narrative clues (“I am painted orange,” “My base is stone and concrete”) before the big reveal. The images are saturated with color, and the hints provided are solid. VERDICT A lively, interactive way to get youngsters interested in history and geography.

Miller, Connie Colwell. The Biggest Engineering Failures. ISBN 9781515799900.

––––. The Biggest Military Battles. ISBN 9781515799894.

––––. The Biggest Plane Crashes. ISBN 9781515799870.

––––. The Biggest Shipwrecks. ISBN 9781515799887.

ea vol: 32p. (History’s Biggest Disasters). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 3-6 –Elementary school readers are introduced to the biggest disasters in engineering, battles, plane crashes, and shipwrecks. Both famous and lesser-known happenings are presented. Engineering includes the events of the R101 airship and the Johnstown flood, among others. Readers of Military Battles learn of Gettysburg and Genghis Khan’s Battle of Badger Mouth. Examples from Plane Crashes are Saudi Flight 163 and September 11. Quick facts, such as dates and the loss of life, are listed, and colorful images reenforce the slight narratives. ­VERDICT While the information presented is minimal, there is enough to whet the appetite of fans of disaster stories and other high-octane tales.

Middle to High School

Bissinger, Caleb. Brexit. ISBN 9781534501416.

Gitlin, Martin. The Arms Race and Nuclear Proliferation. ISBN 9781534501379.

––––. Peace in the Middle East. ISBN 9781534501430.

Hurt, Avery Elizabeth. U.S.-Iran Relations. ISBN 9781534501355.

Johanson, Paula. The Armenian Genocide. ISBN 9781534501201.

Schauer, Pete. AIDS and Other Killer Viruses and Pandemics. ISBN 9781534501393.

ea vol: 224p. (Viewpoints on Modern World History). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Greenhaven. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $47.80.

Gr 8 Up –Teens researching contemporary topics will find a lot of useful information in these volumes. Covering both evergreen topics and more recent events (Brexit), the authors have compiled a number of essays that tackle multiple, nuanced viewpoints related to the titular topic. For example, the “Historical Background” chapter in The Armenian Genocide features pieces on the history of the Armenian people, the Adana Massacres, and more. The text in AIDS and Other Killer Viruses and Other Pandemics is rather technical and will likely resonate more with students who have a strong science background. In all of the titles, the chapters are richly written and will challenge even sophisticated readers. VERDICT Debaters and deep thinkers will benefit most from this series.

Capek, Michael. The Wilhelm Gustloff Story. ISBN 9781532113239.

Henzel, Cynthia Kennedy. The USS Arizona Story. ISBN 9781532113222.

Poehlmann, Tristan. The Titanic Story. ISBN 9781532113215.

Streissguth, Tom. The Mayflower Story. ISBN 9781532113208.

ea vol: 112p. (Famous Ships). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Dec. 2017. lib. ed. $37.07.

Gr 7-10 –These four volumes explore the histories of the respective ships in varying levels of detail. Mayflower recounts the building and history of the vessel before, during, and after the Pilgrims employed it; Titanic focuses mostly on the construction phase, with only a minimal nod to the sinking; Arizona provides information on its building and the aftermath of Pearl Harbor; and Wilhelm Gustloff shines as a well-rounded account that covers a number of different perspectives, including the terror caused by the Russian troop advancement into East Prussia, the atmosphere onboard the doomed ship, the submarine that sank it, and more. ­VERDICT A suitable addition to STEM and history collections, with Wilhelm Gustloff the most readable of the bunch.

Connolly, Kieron. America’s Bloody History from Columbus to the Gold Rush. ISBN 9780766091771.

––––. America’s Bloody History from the Civil War to the Great Depression. ISBN 9780766091788.

––––. America’s Bloody History from Vietnam to the War on Terror. ISBN 9780766091801.

––––. America’s Bloody History from World War II to the Civil Rights Movement. ISBN 9780766091795.

ea vol: 88p. (Bloody History of America). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Enslow. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $35.95.

Gr 8 Up –Four books cover violent episodes in U.S. history, from the early conflicts between Europeans and Native Americans to the current war on terror. Topics include events related to chattel slavery, subjugation of American Indians, wars, protests, revolts, assassinations, and mass shootings. Hardly a bloody episode is omitted, and in that respect, the volumes live up to their titles. However, no subject is explored in great depth, and most are referenced with only the briefest expository descriptions. The featured photographs and archival images are well reproduced but are similar to ones found in existing volumes. VERDICT Despite the comprehensive scope, browsers attracted by the intriguing titles will be disappointed with these mundane reads.

Doeden, Matt. D-Day Invasion. ISBN 9781512486407.

––––. World War II Resistance Fighters. ISBN 9781512486414.

Kallen, Stuart A. Navajo Code Talkers. ISBN 9781512486445.

––––. World War II Spies and Secret Agents. ISBN 9781512486421.

Owens, Lisa L. Attack on Pearl Harbor. ISBN 9781512486391.

Waxman, Laura Hamilton. Japanese American Internment Camps. ISBN 9781512486438.

ea vol: 32p. (Heroes of World War II). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Lerner. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 4-7 –A perennial favorite time period among students receives a fresh treatment. Each volume provides facts about the events, along with the personal recollections of a number of people involved. For instance, an opening publisher’s note in Navajo Code Talkers explains that when historical and personal accounts don’t align, the author has chosen to “use the facts as explained by the code talkers themselves, considering their words to be primary sources”—a smart decision. Throughout the series, the text is very readable, and the images are mostly contemporaneous black-and-white photographs that complement the narratives. VERDICT An above average series for report needs.

Fardon, John. The Middle Ages: New Conquests and Dynasties. ISBN 9781512459722.

––––. The Modern World: The Last Hundred Years. ISBN 9781512459746.

––––. The Rise of Civilization: First Cities and Empires. ISBN 9781512459715.

––––. The Rise of Western Society: Sailing Ships and Revolutions. ISBN 9781512459739.

ea vol: illus. by Christian Cornia. 32p. (Human History Timeline). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Hungry Tomato. Apr. 2018. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 5-8 –Employing stereotypical cartoon drawings and maps, this series relates the history of the world chronologically through a Western lens. The books are littered with inaccuracies and perpetuates racist viewpoints: “Although we humans began in Africa, much of Africa stayed prehistoric,” “the real beginning of Brazil” (referencing the 1693 gold rush), or that the land in what is currently Australia “could not be farmed until 250 years ago, when Europeans arrived with crops and domestic animals.” Throughout, people of color are regularly depicted with weapons and in loin cloths, and the tone is flippant and lacks cultural sensitivity. ­VERDICT Librarians would do better to look elsewhere.

Ford, Jeanne Marie. The 12 Most Influential Athletes of All Time. ISBN 9781632354075.

––––. The 12 Most Influential Musicians of All Time. ISBN 9781632354112.

Krasner, Barbara. The 12 Most Influential Books of All Time. ISBN 9781632354082.

––––. The 12 Most Influential Movies of All Time. ISBN 9781632354105.

Oachs, Emily Rose. The 12 Most Influential Inventions of All Time. ISBN 9781632354099.

––––. The 12 Most Influential Scientific Discoveries of All Time. ISBN 9781632354136.

Ventura, Marne. The 12 Most Influential Photographs of All Time. ISBN 9781632354129.

––––. The 12 Most Influential Speeches of All Time. ISBN 9781632354143.

ea vol: 32p. (The Most Influential). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. 12 Story Library. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $31.35.

Gr 4-7 –These titles highlight the most influential athletes, books, inventions, movies, musicians, photographs, scientific observations, and speeches. Readers learn how Muhammad Ali influenced contemporary sports, how Darwin’s discoveries changed scientific thought, and more. While there will always be room for debate when creating top 10–esque lists, the authors have selected universally popular subjects and managed to make solid cases for their influence. However, the brevity of the format means nothing more is presented than a quick introduction. Some conflicts are addressed, but most are glossed over (Elvis’s appropriation of blues and gospel music is “controversial” for “some”). VERDICT Good for browsing or as a starting point for report writers.

McNab, Chris. Famous Battles of the Age of Revolution. 72p. ISBN 9781502632524.

––––. Famous Battles of the Ancient World. 88p. ISBN 9781502632463.

––––. Famous Battles of the Early Modern Period. 88p. ISBN 9781502632500.

––––. Famous Battles of the Medieval Period. 88p. ISBN 9781502632487.

ea vol: (Classic Warfare). further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $35.64.

Gr 9 Up –This in-depth series explores major battles from ancient history through the mid-1800s. Age of Revolution includes the battles of Yorktown and Waterloo; Ancient World focuses primarily on Mediterranean conflicts, such as Megiddo and Marathon; in Early Modern Period, readers learn of the battles of Kawanakajima and the Battle of Minden; and Medieval Period highlights the Battle of Hastings and the Crusades. Each military engagement is covered in one- or two-page spreads that contain key facts, such as opponents and outcomes. Maps that mark troop movements also appear in each volume. The expository writing style and the strict focus on facts make these dense reads. Students will need some prior knowledge, particularly in regard to weapons and terms like arquebus and “caracole formation.” VERDICT Consider for military history enthusiasts or specific report needs.

Seafarers will be pleased with Bearport’s “Titanica” and ABDO’s “Famous Ships,” specifically Wilhelm Gustloff. Young readers will enjoy the pictures and easy reading in Bearport’s “American Place Puzzlers.” Older readers will appreciate Lerner’s “Heroes of World War II,” and debaters will find much to help them in Greenhaven’s “Viewpoints on Modern World History.” Consider the other series to fill gaps where needed.

Margaret Nunes, Gwinnett County Public Library, GA

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