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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

The acclaimed team that brought us 1968 turns to another year that shook the world with a collection of nonfiction writings by renowned young-adult authors. “The Rights of Man.” What does that mean? In 1789 that question rippled all around the world. Do all men have rights—not just nobles and kings? What then of enslaved people, women, the original inhabitants of the Americas? In the new United…

Overall Book Review:

1789 is a book composed of a series of essays grouped around four different topics.  The authors of these essays are varied in background and provide differing viewpoints on historical events that occurred in and around 1789.

I would not classify this as a book to sit down and read in one sitting.  The essays are extremely varied in terms of geographical setting as well as topics.  Some are based in Europe, some in the fledgling United States, and others in the Caribbean or on the high seas.  This makes reading through from one essay straight to the next somewhat confusing.  The authors did, in most cases, provide sufficient historical background within the essay to give the reader a decent context for the essay topic itself.

The essays are grouped around four topics, but I had a difficult time relating the concepts to the actual grouped essays.  If you are looking to make a direct correlation, it may be tough.  I think the book could have done without the groupings and the context would not have been lost.  Each grouping is prefaced with a two-page series of quotes regarding that topic.  However, the quotes are based on actual historical quotations from that time period and some readers may find them difficult to read/relate given the difference in English structure to modern times.

Younger and less mature readers will struggle with this book.  There are a lot of complex words and concepts throughout the book and the language reads much more like a textbook then a narrative.  Middle school readers without expansive vocabularies may find they miss a good deal of context due to not understanding the vocabulary.

Given the present social circumstances in the US and around the world, this book is definitely a great choice for group-based discussions on social concepts and a civics class would find this book especially useful.  It certainly highlights that we are dealing with the same questions today that we did over 200 years ago and that easy answers are not forthcoming.  Overall, a good discussion read for older audiences but more of a pick-up-put-down book then a read straight through.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy received from the Publisher

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  Three verbal threats; report of boy shot and killed; report of head being chopped off with ax; report of assassination; multiple reports of beatings or whippings; multiple reports of kidnapping; report of death by drowning; report of suicide by drowning.

Sex and Nudity:  Report of rape of female slaves with no detail and sex not directly stated.

Mature Subject Matter:

Racial, gender, socioeconomic and religious conflicts; war; suicide; slavery; divorce.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reports of adults drinking alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.