Review of The Beginner’s American History

In this post, we take a look at The Beginners American History. This book was written by D.H. Montgomery in the late 19th century and was updated by John Holzmann (pp. 269).

Summary

This is a classic text that covers the history of the United States from Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America until the Gold Rush of California. All of the expected content is there from Captain John Smith, George Washington, to even Eli Whitney. Other information shared includes the various wars in America from the battles with the British for independence to the wars with the Mexicans and Indians for control of the land in what is now the United States.

The Good

This would be a great personal reader for an older student. It is primarily text based and there are few illustrations. The writing is simple for the most part and is not overly weighed down with a lot of academic insights and communication. 

The illustrations that are included tend to be an ever-changing map that shows how America is being slowly taken over by the American colonist. This provides the reader of a perspective of time and the growth of the United States.

It is also beneficial for students to get an older perspective on history. The way Montgomery viewed American history in the 19th century is vastly different from how historians see it today.

The Bad

As previously mentioned, the book is text heavy. This makes it inappropriate for small children. In addition, there are few illustrations in the book. This can be a detriment to students who learn through their senses. This would also make the text hard to use in a whole-class situation.

It is a children’s book, however, the portrayal of content is in the most rudimentary manner. This may be due to the context in which the book was written as well as the purpose for this book. Either way, the book was rich on  content but lacked depth.

The Recommendation

For personal reading this is an excellent book. However, in an academic context, I believe there are superior options to the book discussed here. The age of the text provides a distinct perspective on history but lacks the content for deep learning today.

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