Gr 7 Up-These books place works of literature in their historical contexts. The layouts are visually interesting with photos and drawings, primary-source documents, sidebars, and extracts from the novels. Each volume traces the author's life and speculates about the influences on his or her writing. Bickerstaff includes background on the Civil War, slavery, and the Battle of Chancellorsville; Carlson discusses the early-19th-century abolitionist movement. Students of Crane's work will definitely find Bickerstaff's book useful. The writing is clear, and many well-placed passages from the novel effectively illustrate points and inspire further reading. The second title is less effective. Carlson discusses theories of race, religion, and women's rights at the time as a way of contextualizing Uncle Tom's Cabin, but none of the theories is explained clearly or fully enough to provide thorough understanding. There are few quotes from the novel. It is especially frustrating that the work itself is not discussed until chapter four. This book lacks organization and a cohesive focus.-Sonja Cole, Briarcliff Middle School, Mountain Lakes, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.