My eight-year old son loves adventure stories and enjoys learning about history. I thought this would be a perfect fit for him. I imagined that we would start by reading these together and then he would take off on his own. Unfortunately this book was not at all what I thought it was going to be.
The blurb on the back reads that it "compile[s] the stories of America's heroes from across the ages," but as another interviewer pointed out these are not just stories of Americans, but many many Brits as well. Although I guess one could argue they are still heroes of America, this is a bit misleading. It also promises "stories of courage and adventure." And yes, these are stories of people who had adventures and courage, unfortunately that adventure and courage is not communicated to the reader, especially younger readers.
Instead of the tales OF adventure that I was expecting, what we found when we opened this volume was fairly dry, short autobiographies filled with dates and names. Together we read the selection on Harry Houdini, a favorite historical figure of my son's. And we got immigration facts, his height, and the name of his wife. Not exactly reading that will keep a busy eight-year-old boy on the edge of his seat. The parts that could have interested him were quickly passed over with very few details given. For example, when he ran away from home at age 12 by jumping on a train was described in about as many words as I just used. These are not, as the back describes them, stories: they are collections of the facts, mere outlines of the stories.
The idea of this book has great potential. My son would love a collection of stories about some of the great adventures men and women have had in history. But they need to be told as stories, with details and emotion, and with carefully built suspense. As it is this book was a disappointment to both of us; we couldn't even finish the section on Houdini as I was as bored as he was. We may shelf this one for when he is older, but honestly I don't think it will be read. The life of these lives has been distilled out: all that is left is the facts, and that's not much fun to read (although it may be informative).