Gr 4–8—These titles make excellent reading for readers with little historical background who are seeking a succinct explanation of the politics and polarities behind different wars. The authors build a solid narrative, one layer at a time. "Primary Sources: What Do They Tell Us?" sidebars offer a photograph or drawing along with questions designed to foster critical thinking. For instance, a sidebar about Thomas Paine's Common Sense encourages readers to consider why the support of ordinary colonists was so pivotal. While the bulk of the material deals with the background of the war, each volume also addresses the effects of war on women and children. There is information on damaged or obliterated town and familial infrastructures, civilian casualties, child soldiers, and wartime privations. Boldly colored backgrounds and plain bold fonts are just modern enough to form an attractive contrast to old images. Photographs, drawings, and maps work effectively with the text. VERDICT An excellent option for exploring the topic.