Great Puzzles of History

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Rae Valabek
Topics in this book were selected because they are historically significant and have a mystery surrounding them. The topics such as Anastasia and King Arthur are interesting and intriguing with controversial interpretations. The reader can be a detective synthesizing and drawing conclusions. Critical thinking and research skills can be utilized to develop a perspective of the historical event. A bibliography includes sources about each of the puzzling events. The author was a social studies teacher and is now a criminal prosecutor.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9--Neff invites students to play detective, "historically interpret" events, and practice critical thinking, but his book fails on several levels. First, the author presents information about each famous mystery without noting sources or distinguishing between fact and theory, research and rumor. For example, all of the ideas related to who "discovered" (sic) America--from Vikings, Columbus, Celts, St. Brendan, Phoenicians, and travelers to Atlantis--are offered as possibilities to be considered. Also, there is no discussion of the rules of historical evidence to help students do the further investigation the author recommends. Finally, he presumes his readers bring a level of knowledge of history and geography to their reading that many do not have. Certainly these are intriguing puzzles to which history has not found fully accepted answers, but Neff's book is not a good starting point. The stories of Anastasia, the princes in the tower, Robin Hood and King Arthur, Alexander I of Russia, the young heir to Louis XVI of France, and the Man in the Iron Mask do invite "practice in historical interpretation," but information on these cases can be readily found in other sources.--Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822539315
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 8.81 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Terrific tool for building thinking skills

    Great Puzzles avoids the pitfalls of ordinary history narrations while instead putting historical events through a type of fascinating trial process. This books unique approach is both entertaining and instructive. The author Minneapolis attorney Fred Neff allows for a full presentation of facts while raising the types of searching questions one might expect from an experienced trial lawyer. I really like how the book avoids the ordinary one sided approach and instead allows the ready to critically judge the facts to come to a personal decision as to what happened. The author has a clear cut style that makes the book very easy to read. This book is a positive addition to my personal library.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007

    Intrigue and mystery are ingredients of Great Puzzles of History Book

    Intrigue and mystery are key ingredients of the Great Puzzles of History Book. It delves into the controversial and confounding facts surrounding the Lost Dauphin of France, The alleged princess Anastasia, The identity of a prisoner claiming to be Rudolph Hess, the identity of Robin Hood, the identity of King Arthur and other mysteries. The author uses a presentation that captures the immagination by telling the facts and raising questions as to certain of those facts along with supporting evidence. These questions help the reader to think through the material and come up with alternative explanations and in my case go on and do further reading from the books bibliography. Great Puzzles of History was written by a lawyer Fred Neff who has received recognition for his work including, the city of St. Paul Citizen of the Month Award, a commendation for Distinguished Service from the Sibley County Attorney's Office, the WCCO Radio Good Neighbor Award, the HLS Justice Award, the Lamp of Knowledge Award from the Twin Cities Lawyers Guild and the Presidential Medal of Merit. The books method of telling history is very appealing and I would definately recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    Great Puzzles book is a thinking persons delight

    I like a book that not only presents facts, but makes me think, which is precisely what is delivered by lawyer Fred Neff who is the author of the book. The Great Puzzles Of History book gets into true identities of claimants to the Russian and French crown, the man in the Iron Mask, was there a king Arthur? and was there a Robin Hood? After reading Great Puzzles Of History I can see why the author Fred Neff lawyer was a co-host on a successful television program on historical topics and received so many awards like the Presidential Medal of Merit. Fred Neff's book follows all the fundamentals of effective writing and was a pleasure to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2007

    Truly presents intriguing cases

    I say here and now that history is one of my passions, so Fred Neff author, former prosecutor and Presidential medal of merit winner really caught my interest in his book Great Puzzles of History. Being especially interested in French culture, I was fascinated with the books chapter on the Lost Dauphin. Lawyer Fred Neff not only gives the facts, but asks thought provoking questions that really made me rethink some preconceptions I had before reading the book, on that period of French history. Other notable historical puzzles were the Anastasia controversy and The Czar's Empty Coffin. The book follows proper fundamentals in english and is presented in a manner that should have broad appeal. It is informative and entertaining. The writing style is so clear that I can recommend it to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    Wonderful book for mystery lovers of all ages.

    History may seem dry, but not as presented in the book on Great Puzzles of History by Fred Neff. It covers the story of some of history's more famous and controversial situations. There is no definitive answer to the questions related to these classic true life mysteries. Part of the fun in reading this book is speculating on the answer to the questions surrounding these events. There are chapters on the Lost Dauphin, the Anastasia Controversy, the Man in the Iron Mask that keep the mind fascinated throughout the reading. The book's narration includes relevant questions raised by the facts of the event that have created the mystery surrounding it. The reader gets a chance to solve questions related to the stories presented. Great Puzzles of History makes history an exciting adventure.

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