1789: Twelve Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change

Candlewick. Sept. 2020. 208p. ed. by Aronson, Marc & Susan Campbell Bartoletti, eds. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781536208733.
Gr 9 Up–Editors Aronson and Bartoletti (1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change) and a team of young adult authors dissect a pivotal year in world history. The text covers a variety of topics, some of which will be well known to an American audience, such as the French Revolution, William Bligh and the mutiny of the HMS Bounty, and Sally Hemings. But most events and names are less familiar to the target demographic. Overall, the contributors examine the advancement of human rights and personal liberties. The authors also study the people who had these privileges while exploring the suppression of women and people of color. Some of the essays are thoroughly engaging. Tanya Lee Stone presents a compelling summary of the early days of the French Revolution and the role of the food market fishwives; Bartoletti effectively captures the spirit of artist Élisabeth Vigée; and Steve Sheinkin’s summary of the mutiny on the Bounty is highly entertaining. However, several essays (such as Amy Alznauer’s spotlight on the number pi and mathematician Jurij Vega) feel tedious and seem to focus more on theorizing and offering imagery than presenting facts.
VERDICT An essay collection that will attract readers who want to learn about the history of personal freedoms or have a deep interest in the topic. However, the book falls short on general appeal despite the draw of big-name contributors.

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