Children's LiteratureSeveral Native American civilizations, dating back to 500 B.C., occupied what are now the south-central states of the United States. This book is about seven men and the territories they helped control�the Frenchmen Henry de Tonty, the first settlement in Arkansas, and Auguste Chouteau, St. Louis, Missouri; the American's Sam Houston, the fight for Texas, Eli Thayer, bleeding Kansas, Daniel Boone, the settlement of Kentucky, Stephen Austin, the colonization of Texas, and John Sevier, the founding of Tennessee. Although their goals differed, their achievements resulted in the exploration and settlement of what was "once America's western frontier." The men are fascinating subjects and the book presents American history at its most exciting time. But, the author's prose is uninspired and he is too intent on cramming in as many facts as possible; instead of using colorful detail and anecdotes to expand his material, he assaults his audience with detail upon detail. For example, Henry de Tonty and Robert de La Salle erected a fort in order to survive the winter in Illinois. "Some idea of the hardships they faced can be gained from the fort's name, Crevecoeur, which means 'heartbreak' in French." What hardships? How did they survive? Or, the following autumn, Tonty is attacked, seriously wounded and imprisoned by the Iroquois Indians. "Finally he managed to escape." What kind of wounds did he sustain and how did he escape? Either Mr. Doherty should have written a longer book or chosen fewer subjects. There are many interesting sidebars and descriptive captions on the black-and-white illustrations, as well as an excellent timeline. The book is part of "Shaping America" series.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-8-Beginning with a brief introduction, Doherty traces the history of the settlement of various frontier lands through a study of the lives and achievements of seven men: Henry de Tonty (Arkansas), Auguste Chouteau (Missouri), Daniel Boone (Kentucky), John Sevier (Tennessee), Stephen Austin and Sam Houston (Texas), and Eli Thayer (Kansas). Each chapter begins with an interesting episode in the life of the explorer or pioneer. Black-and-white drawings, photographs, and maps provide points of reference. The subjects come alive through the use of quotes from the men themselves, or from people who knew them. Each biographical sketch includes a short section on the history of the area, strategically placed to enhance readers' understanding of that particular geographic location. Although the focus is on the featured men, other explorers and settlers are mentioned. A contrast of the treatment of Native Americans by the French and by the Colonists is vividly shown. The relentless push to the West by settlers, with little or no regard for the Native Americans, is clearly described. This book provides a well-rounded presentation of the history of this area of the United States.-Lana Miles, Duchesne Academy, Houston, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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