Book Review: Independence Now

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

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The Revolutionary War

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If you're looking for a solid little book to serve as an introduction to the Revolutionary War, then National Geographic has just the thing, in a new book to be released just in time for the Fourth of July. Independence Now is written by Daniel Rosen, an accomplished children's author, and tells the story of American Independence in two-page vignettes that add up to a good overview of the causes, events, and consequences of that monumental time in history.

The author takes great care to get his facts right, and it shows. Even the most casual reader of American history will recognize some of the facts and figures included herein, and the illustrations are both familiar and new.

This book succeeds as a presenter of many different viewpoints, both literally and figuratively. The author goes out of his way to include Loyalist views on the American struggle of independence, including those of Benjamin Franklin's son William, the last royal governor of the New Jersey colony. A two-page spread compares the writings of father and son, who were obviously on both sides of the issue. Primary sources are also examined in the form of paintings of George Washington, in a fascinating vignette in which the author asks the reader to examine the face and posture of Washington in each painting (most of which are famous) for signs of propaganda.

The book includes a bit about the roles of women and African-Americans in the struggle for independence and even throws in the story of 16-year-old Sybil Ludington, who rallied her colonel father's men to him by riding 40 miles to each of their homes and urged them to gather and stand tall against the British attacking Danbury.

The illustrations, including maps and famous photos and paintings, are superb, as always with this publisher's products. A glossary is included, with pertinent terms highlighted in the text for easy lookup. The only thing missing is a timeline of events.

You won't find detailed analysis or much historical context here, but you will find an excellent and well-put-together introduction to the events that led to the forming of the country.

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