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Don't Know Much About American History Paperback – Apr 1 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-American history comes alive in this witty, yet informative account. Kenneth Davis (HarperCollins, 2003) explains complex issues like the controversy over slavery that led to the Civil War, the reasons for the Great Depression, and why terrorists would want to attack the United States on 9/11 in language that is easy for young people to understand. The narration by actor Oliver Wyman is broken up by the voices of three other actors who ask questions like: "How did Theodore Roosevelt get rid of 7,400 miles?" and "Were the Little Rock Nine a rock-and-roll band?" The narrative is also broken up by "American Voices," which include first-person accounts; American Portraits-brief biographies of noteworthy people, ranging from Harriet Tubman to Harry Houdini; Great American Pastimes, ranging from baseball to jazz; and American English, discussing how words became part of our language. Davis doesn't gloss over controversial parts of history, such as why not all Americans consider Columbus Day a holiday. and why the U.S. didn't do more to help prevent the Holocaust. He also addresses what our founding fathers meant when they said, "All men are created equal." As lively as this history book is, though, it's unlikely that young people will want to listen to it just for fun.
David Bilmes, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“[Davis] steers an intelligent, non-partisan course through the thorny issues of the past.” (USA Today)
“Put the zest back in history” (Washington Post Book World)
Top Customer Reviews
"Don't Know Much About History" is as hard a book to recommend as it is to truly scorn. Author Kenneth Davis succeeds in offering a single-volume of American history covering most major events and eras in simple, accessible language. Yet Davis fails to craft a balanced book, his own political viewpoints and biases too often intruding upon the text. It's unfortunate, because his victory in putting together such a book is noteworthy.
The audio reading here is extraordinary. The tone is lively and engaging, and the use of several narrators (changing places for chapter titles and famous quotes) brings a welcome change of pace to what could be a monotonous 20-plus hours. The production is very good, the sound crisp, and chapter titles are read aloud. (I hate audio books that skip chapter titles).
As it purports to do, "Don't Know Much..." runs the gamut of American history, from the earliest explorers to September 11, 2001, and just about every major event in between. Events are summarized and explained in easy to understand language, making a great starting point for those developing a love for history, or readers looking to refresh their memory of history lessons learned long ago. Throughout are timelines on major events (the Civil War, World War II, etc.) and quotes from key historical figures. Overall, the presentation is wonderful and will be a boon to those with even a passing interest in history. A well-formatted piece.
In the audio edition, the timelines come across as awkward. The quotes, however, are wonderful. Two other narrators, a male and female, handle the chores here, serving to break the listener away for a moment and sink into the famous quote. Impersonations are also excellent.Read more ›
Each chapter begins with a list of questions on a given period of history. Then Davis begins describing what happened during this period, taking up and answering each question in turn. Starting with Teddy Roosevelt, Davisï¿½ own political persuasion starts to come through more and more clearly. While I myself agree with Davisï¿½ comments about FDR and Ronald Reagan, I think conservative readers might find some of them a bit objectionable. In general, I found this a very readable concise history of the United States, but itï¿½s not for everyone.
All that said, one of the joys of this series is Dick Estell's excellent narration, which gives life to even the dullest of passages. It is also refreshing to finally be able to hear about the more human side of history, or at least the more human side of our presidents and other political leaders as well as the leading men of industry.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I have not actualy read the whole book, rather my American History teacher uses it occasionally uses it in his lessons. Read morePublished on April 9 2004
Best book for a history major. I used it to pass the United States History AP test, and the book had everything that was on the test. Read morePublished on March 27 2004
If you want a politically correct view of history this is it. Accuracy is secondary. History with a left wing bias.Published on Jan. 27 2004
Throughout the book there are a number of must reads listed which give you a place to look if a particular topic interested you enough to want to read more. Read morePublished on Dec 12 2003
Davis gets the usual excuses in first by explaining he has been accused of having both a left and right approach to this book. Read morePublished on June 8 2003 by Chris Richardson-Child
Don't Know Much About History is a wonderful concept for a non-fiction book. Instead of dissecting one historically significant event or personality and devoting 500 pages to... Read morePublished on April 16 2003 by Christopher B. Jonnes
First off, let me address the sentiment reflected in the other reviews regarding a preceived "bias" in the presentation of the facts. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2003
As someone who developed an interest in history in my 30's (and having paid no attention in high school and college history), I found this book to be a great place to gain an... Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2003 by LUCK
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