Wednesday, February 6, 2013

George Washington's World, by Genevieve Foster

The copy of this book that I borrowed was without its jacket, so it looked a little less pretty.  This book is a pretty large one, with pages being about 8.5x11, and 344 pages before the index.  I'll come clean and admit what you've all suspected- I'm generally not fond of historical biography and expected to be bored with this one (and doubly bored since this author has another Washington biography on the Newbery list a few years down the road).  But this book isn't strictly a biography, which makes it a lot more fun than I'd expected.

George Washington's World is divided into six parts: When George Washington Was a Boy, When George Washington Was a Soldier, When George Washington Was a Farmer, When George Washington Was the Commander, When George Washington Was Just a Citizen, and When George Washington was President.  Each section begins with a two-page illustrated spread which shows various historical figures and a brief description of what they were doing during the period described.  Then within each section are chapters discussing each of these figures in a broader context.  It was a lot of fun!  Of course, George Washington is given at least one chapter in each section, but this isn't a giant book of JUST Washington.

The book is definitely Eurocentric- it focuses on the United States and France especially (although the author herself doesn't appear to have any French ties).  But it does, in some instances, bring us into other countries (India and China in particular), and discuss other internationally significant events, such as the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, the discovery of the Bering Strait, or man's first hot air balloon voyage.  So anyone could easily enjoy this book, skipping the chapters that aren't of interest with no tremendous loss.

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