Series: "Shapers of America"

Barack Obama CoverBarack Obama seems to have a natural constituency among young people, and this attractive biography in the Shapers of America series will give readers a real feel for the man and the the forces that shaped him. Naturally, Davis uses Obama's own writings, Dreams of My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006), but a scan of the source notes also shows magazine and newspaper articles, TV shows, and extracts from speeches, giving this heft as well as appeal. The book begins with Obama's show-stopping keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004, and then restarts chronologically. It throughly and sensitively dissects Obama's complicated ethnic background and what it meant to him both growing up and as a young adult trying to find his place in the world. Davis also does a good job of explaining the realities associated with Obama's losses and wins in the political arena. Quotes from those who knew him in various stages of his life add to the well-rounded portrait. This is also an attractive offering. Though some of the photos are stock (pictures of Obama's colleges or places where he lived, such as Indonesia), most are in color, and red, white, and blue accents enliven the pages.

-Booklist Starred Review, on Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope , part of the Shapers of America series. (February 2008)

Sacagawea CoverThis attractive title introduces the young Shoshone woman who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Crosby addresses the controversies surrounding the proper meaning and pronunciation of her name and the date of her death. More importantly, he also explains the legacy of the journey: how our views of it have changed over time and how it affected Native Americans in the West. Full of clear maps, historical paintings, reproductions of period documents (including journals), and color photographs of landmarks along the route, this is a visually attractive package. In content, it is similar to Alana J. White's Sacagawea (Enslow, 1997), but the presentation is much more appealing. Detailed endnotes show the depth of the author's research, and the suggested reading includes books for both younger and older students and Internet sources.

-School Library Journal, on Sacagawea: Shoshone Explorer . (July 2008)

Billy Mitchell CoverA tireless promoter of American military aviation, Billy Mitchell first saw the potential of aerial warfare when he visited the trenches of the Western Front in 1917. During his Army career, he made it his mission to promote the creation of a military air force separate from the Army and the Navy. Illustrated primarily with photos, this informative book from the Shapers of America series concludes with a chronology, glossary, notes, and lists of recommended books and Web sites. Mitchell’s penchant for creating controversy and his eventual court-martial help make this an intriguing story for military-history buffs.

-Booklist, on Billy Mitchell: Evangelist of Air Power. (February 2008)

Drawing on Barack Obama’s memoirs as well as diverse interviews from newspapers, television shows, radio programs, and magazines, this biography begins with his birth in Hawaii and ends with the beginning of his 2008 presidential campaign. Each chapter highlights life-defining moments and experiences. Stages of his life, education, and career are examined. Impressions from friends and colleagues help round out the factual narrative. Overall it is a solid biography of a man who, even if defeated in 2008, has already broken barriers and will likely remain important in future years. Color photos with thoughtful captions and separate quotations in sidebars help to enliven the text. The overall tone is positive and pro-Obama, emphasizing his bipartisan work and his commitment to building communities and reforming government. Rumors and accusations of wrongdoing on Obama’s part (drug use, parking tickets, etc.) are addressed and either confirmed or dismissed. Good for homework and for those seeking general information about Obama, this book will be welcome and useful in public and school libraries.

-VOYA, on Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope . (July 2008)

Barack Obama CoverThis book includes 10 chapters that take the reader from Obama’s early life in Hawaii and Indonesia to his days at Harvard Law School to the present. Throughout the book, the author discusses his extraordinary political gifts. The book includes more than 55 photographs that are interspersed throughout. The book draws heavily on Obama’s The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Crown Publishing, 2007) as well as magazine articles, transcripts, and Web sites. The book represents a well-documented effort to outline the life of Barack Obama for an upper middle school and high school audience. The author’s admiration for Obama is obvious with many glowing statements. With the 2008 election heating up, this book would be a suitable purchase for the library’s biography section. Recommended.

-Library Media Connection, on Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope.

Part of the Shapers of America series, Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope is a remarkably extensive biography for young adults about the charismatic African-American senator from Illinois who has become one of the Democratic Party’s most prominent figures. Tracing the journey of his life from Hawaii and Indonesia to Harvard Law School, Chicago’s South Side, and the halls of Congress, Barack Obama is illustrated throughout with black-and-white as well as color photography. Chapter notes and an index round out this highly accessible resource especially recommended for school and community library collections.

-Midwest Book Review, on Barack Obama: The Politics of Hope .

Billy Mitchell Cover According to the introduction, this series is meant to showcase the unsung heroes of good citizenship. It promises that the people chosen to be profiled will have made errors in judgment, but that these mistakes can provide inspiration for future generations. Readers learn that the people chosen for inclusion are not as well known as they should be, but half of the eight listed are easily recognizable names. Billy Mitchell’s entry is fully loaded with amazing extras including Web sources and breakout sections to help explain the times in which Billy Mitchell made his mark on history. The visual extras are captioned for clarity. Billy Mitchell is not a well-known historical figure, and it seems doubtful that this biography will help propel him into more exalted company. The in-depth investigation into his contributions to aviation warfare and his insubordinate behavior, leading to court martial, will only appeal to a select few. The extras are fabulous, but they do not spark life into the subject.

-VOYA, on Billy Mitchell: Evangelist of Air Power.