Gr 5-8-In the first book, Schaffer discusses how the young United States balanced the competing interests of Britain, France, and Spain to successfully negotiate the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. He provides background about the settlement and colonization of Louisiana and also explains how the ambitions of leaders such as Napoleon, slave-leader Toussaint-L'Ouverture, and Thomas Jefferson influenced the negotiations and final sale. In the second title, Young explains how the machinations of pro- and antislavery organizations and settlers produced a constitutional crisis and armed conflict, including John Brown's infamous Pottawatomie Massacre, in territorial Kansas in the years before the Civil War. The author also explains how the political and armed conflicts in Kansas foreshadowed the division and violence of the Civil War. Both books feature an opening chapter that captures a pivotal event, followed by a more thorough examination of the topic, including background, a narrative of events, and objective analysis of its importance. Maps, reproductions of period photos and illustrations, and screen shots of the recommended Web pages appear throughout. Each volume has a listing of those URLs, including some that are highlighted as an "Editor's Choice." While not as attractive as Rhoda Blumberg's What's the Deal?: Jefferson, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase (National Geographic, 1998), Purchase provides solid report information and is a good supplemental choice. In contrast, Kansas does not have as much background information, detail, or analysis as Karen Zeinert's Tragic Prelude: Bleeding Kansas (Linnet, 2001), which remains a better choice for most libraries.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.