Review of The Landmark History of the American People Vol 1

The book The Landmark History of the American People Vol 1 by Daniel Boorstin (pp. 169) provides a rich explanation of the history of the United States from the dawn of colonial America until the end of the 19th century. Daniel Boorstin was a rather famous author and  a former Librarian of Congress. Holding such as position gives you the esteem in which this man was held.

The Summary

This book covers many interesting aspects of early American history. It begins with the development of the colonies. From there the text provides A detailed account of the eventual split from Great Britain. The next focus of the text is on the America heading west through the expansion that involved purchasing land, warfare, and unfortunate exploitation.

The latter part of the text focuses somewhat more on such ideas as life out in the western frontier. There is also a mention of the early effects of the industrial revolution with the development of the train and all the advantages and dangers that this brought.

The Good

This book provides a lot of interesting details about life in America. For example, on the frontier, Americans developed something called the balloon frame house. This type of building was faster and relatively safe when compared to the European model of building at this time. This kinds of little details are not common in most text for children

The text is also full illustrations that capture the time period in which the author was writing about. From pictures of puritans, to Indians, to even photos of various famous American historical sites. This text has a little of everything.

The Bad

Although the text is full of illustrations, it is still primarily text based. In addition, even though the text is full of interesting details this can also be a disadvantage of you or your student  needs the big picture about a particular time period. Yes, I did compliment the development of the balloon frame house. However, what is the benefit of knowing this small detail from American history?

Younger children would struggle with the writing and text heavy nature of the book. However, to be fair, perhaps the author was gearing this book towards older students. However, in the preface, the editor, mentions that this book was meant to be read by parents to 3rd or 4th graders. This seems like a tall task given the content.

The Recommendation

This book would be good for older kids. Perhaps middle school, who have the reading comprehension and perhaps the curiosity to handle such a text. However, for younger children I am convinced the text is too complicated for them to appreciate it. One way to address this is to focus on the visual aspects of the book and not worry too much of getting every detail of the challenging text.

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