He Wouldn’t Be King: The Story of Simon Bolivar by Nina Brown Baker

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Reviews:
“A finely proportioned narrative.” The New York Times

“Worth its weight in gold. A warm dramatic story of a man whose career was one of the most astonishing and colorful the world has known.” Parents Magazine

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR, hailed as Liberator by the people of South America, occupies the same place in their affections that George Washington does in ours. An aristocrat and a wealthy man like Washington, he risked position, wealth, and life itself to free South America from the unhappy rule of Spain. Like Lincoln in his love for the common man, he brought about the abolition of slavery a generation before that institution was ended here.

HE WOULDN’T BE KING is the first modern biography of Bolívar in English for young people, yet history provides few more exciting tales than the march across the Andes of Bolívar’s small but dauntless army; it can offer few stories to compare in color and surprise with Bolivar’s courageous career.

Nina Brown Baker tells Bolívar’s story fully and vividly. She has not only so portrayed the ideals of the man that we are the better for knowing him, but she has also given us the background that enables us to understand both Bolívar and the South America of today.

More from the New York Times, New Books for Younger Readers, March 15, 1942.

By Ellen Lewis Buell. HE WOULDN’T BE KING. The Story Of Simon Bolivar. By Nina Brown Baker. Illustrated by Camilo Egas. 306 pages. New York: The Vanguard Press.

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR was a hero not merely through force of circumstances and period. He was truly cast in a heroic mold and should be known wherever greatness of spirit as well as deed is revered. His life is of special significance to us of the United States, not only be­cause of our growing sympathy with South America, but because it was from our own Revolution and our first leader, Washing­ton, that he drew much of the in­spiration to win freedom for his own part of the Americas.

It was a life so full and so dra­matic that there is plenty of room for both the fine biogra­phies for young people which this year has brought forth. It would indeed be difficult, and is unnec­essary. to make a final choice be­tween Elizabeth Waugh’s “Simón Bolivar: A Story of Courage,” previously reviewed in this department and Nina Brown Baker’s “He Wouldn’t Be King,” which has won the 1941 Intra-American Award annually pre­sented by the Society for the Americas. Mrs. Baker’s is per­haps more dramatic in its pres­entation of an essentially dra­matic life, and certainly there is a twinkling humor to throw into perspective some of the lighter aspects of a career and a strug­gle which inevitably took on at times a certain comic opera fla­vor, which really emphasizes the size of the task performed.

This would be good reading if only for the sketches of the col­orful figures which surrounded Bolívar: the picturesque, incredi­ble Páez: the dashing and equally incredible Manuela Sáenz, his eccentric tutor, Rodriguez; the loyal and charming Irishmen who fought under him. A host of such friends, and enemies too. come to life, but all these are properly dominated by the Liber­ator himself, and as the pattern of his life is unfolded in a finely proportioned narrative so is the greatness of his vision and of his achievement.

From a reviewer on Amazon:

“He Wouldn’t be King: The Story of Simon Bolivar,” by Nina Brown Baker is a delightful, very easy to read book that should be required reading in every American High School. Certainly, every High School student across the United States is well aware of the importance of George Washington but what about Simon Bolivar? Or Jose de San Martin for that matter? These men are great Western Hemisphere military generals responsible for freeing most of South America from strict colonial rule?

Bolivar, often affectionately called the Liberator, freed Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia from Spanish oppression. San Martin freed Argentina and Chile. To this end, Bolivar had a boyish hero worship of Washington and regularly drew inspiration from the North American revolution. An added bonus of this book is that the author does an excellent job describing Bolivar’s critical relationships with other dynamic Generals, particularly Antonio Jose de Sucre, Francisco de Paula Santander and Jose Antonio Paez. The narrative also documents the enormous importance of British and Irish volunteers who joined Bolivar and the struggle against Spanish rule.

The narrative starts with Bolivar’s privileged childhood, his intellectual growth and finally his decision to lead his people to liberty. Bolivar is a great man, who frees the black man from slavery 46 years before Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. He also refused to be King and chose instead to be his nation’s first President…like he beloved George Washington.

Baker downplays his many romances and the tuberculosis that eventually killed him. Nevertheless, the text is meticulously researched, well-written and objective. Although this book was published in 1941, it is still very relevant today and would be an excellent choice for a High School history book report or detailed term paper. The text is also complete with many beautiful black and white illustrations. Highly recommended.
Bert Ruiz

Cover shows Bethune leading children up a hill

Mary McLeod Bethune

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This is the challenging and inspired true story of a little girl who was determined to learn to read, and who went on to be a teacher, the founder of a college, an adviser to statesmen, and a great humanitarian. Mary McLeod Bethune was the fifteenth child of hardworking and god fearing parents. She was the first of their children to be born free. Her ancestry was wholly of African origin, a point of pride throughout her life.

Mrs. Bethune worked untiringly to restore—through education—her people’s faith in the magnificent heritage that is rightfully theirs. During the many years of and tribulation, she refused to give up her fondest dream—her own school for Negro children. And, as a shining monument to her hard work and faith, she has given to black youth the thriving institution of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Thurgood Marshall: From His Early Years to Brown by Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark

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Editorial reviews:

“Michael Davis and Hunter Clark have crafted a thoughtful, carefully researched and focused biography.” —USA Today

“Well-written, informative and lively.” —People

“Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark offer a masterfully written tale of an American legend.” — Gannett News Service

“Filled with the same fire, passion and humor that drove Marshall’s life, Thurgood Marshall is a revealing portrait of a pioneering lawyer.” —National Black Review

This ebook edition is the first half of the 1992 print edition of “Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench.” This new edition covers Thurgood Marshall’s youth, education, and the legal strategies he used, and the cases he argued leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The reviews above are from the print edition.

Publisher’s Note:
Chapter 1 describes Thurgood Marshall’s place in history.
Chapter 2 explains the challenges Marshall and the attorneys of the N.A.A.C.P were to face as they built the precedents that led to the Brown decision.
Chapter 3 is about Marshall’s childhood in Jim Crow Baltimore, and is probably the best starting point for high school students who want to begin with a straight-forward story of the life of a courageous leader. This chapter lends itself to writing assignments such as “Compare your public school years to what Thurgood Marshall experienced in Baltimore.” Not only will students have to read the chapter to complete the writing assignment, but there will be space for their own voices in the assignment. They may find this comparison more interesting than a book report.
Chapter 4 describes his years in Howard University Law School, and the work of his mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston, who saw how the law school and its graduates could fight racial injustice.
Subsequent chapters describe the work Marshall did on the cases leading up to the Brown decision, his civil rights work in the South, and his push for fair treatment of Black G.I.s during the Korean War.

Cover showing Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall: His Triumph in Brown, His Years on the Supreme Court

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Editorial Reviews:

“Michael Davis and Hunter Clark have crafted a thoughtful, carefully researched and focused biography.” —USA Today

“I highly recommend Thurgood Marshall by Mike Davis and Hunter Clark. This impressive book captures the sweeping drama and courageous struggles that have filled Thurgood Marshall’s life and career. The story of Justice Marshall is that of one of the greatest Americans in the twentieth century. Davis and Clark provide a compelling portrait of Marshall’s immense humanity and integrity in this fine biography.” —Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta.

“Thurgood Marshall is a giant of a man at a time when giants are scarce and desperately needed. This wonderful biography takes his measure.” —(Rev.) Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame

“Davis and Clark have given us an engagingly written and conscientiously researched biography of a twentieth-century icon. It should be widely read and much discussed by all who care about the large, principled issues Justice Marshall’s life embodies.” —David Levering Lewis, author of W. E. B. Dubois: Biography of a Race

“Michael B. Davis and Hunter R. Clark have written an interesting and informative biography of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall directed toward a general audience. The current work, with its fluid, readable style, reflects the authors’ backgrounds in the popular press, where both have published extensively.”—Mississippi Quarterly

This ebook edition is the second half of the 1992 print edition. This new edition covers Thurgood Marshall’s victory in Brown, the resistance to the Brown decision, and his years on the Supreme Court. The reviews above are from the print edition of 1992 titled, Thurgood Marshall:Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench.

 

Cover with a sketch of Carson

Sea and Earth: The Life of Rachel Carson

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This is the story of the most important science writer of the 20th century. With “Silent Spring” Rachel Carson shocked Americans into reevaluating the man-made chemicals that have polluted our whole environment. Carson “jolted the entire country into awareness of the problem” of pesticides.” Her book “launched the environmental movement; provoked the passage of the Clean Air Act…the Clean Water Act…and led to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

By drawing much of his story from the recollections of Rachel Carson’s friends and colleagues, the author presents a well-rounded portrait of a woman who was a dedicated scientist and gifted writer, a devoted daughter and friend, and above all, a determined defender of the natural world she understood so well.

This biography won the Christopher Award in 1971 which is presented to the producers, directors, and writers of books, motion pictures and television specials that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit”. It is given by The Christophers, a Christian organization founded in 1945 by the Maryknoll priest James Keller.

cover with photo of Diego Rivera

My Art, My Life, An Autobiography by Diego Rivera

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Diego Rivera stands among the titans of our century. A man of phenomenal energy, he not only transformed the art of his country, but helped to transform its social structure as well. In the course of his tempestuous career, he defied presidents, dictators, millionaires, and the arbiters of artistic fashion. Often forced into hiding or exile during his lifetime, he is now enshrined in the pantheon of his country. His activities brought him into personal relationships not only with the artistic and political leaders of Mexico but with the famous and powerful abroad.
Rivera revolutionized modern mural painting and was the principal figure in launching the “Mexican Renaissance,” which is now regarded as one of the great periods in the history of world art.
This was an artist who could not separate his work — always his chief devotion — from his life. Like the man himself, his autobiography is full of conflict and color: the battles which surrounded his murals in the Detroit Art Institute, Rockefeller Center, and the Hotel del Prado are recounted in detail and with fervor.
The absorbing story of this epochal man, drawn from his own words as dictated over a period of ten years to the American journalist, Gladys March, makes a book that is certain to become one of the classics of art literature. With a quality all its own, it contains something of the frankness of Benvenuto Cellini, the impassioned suffering of Van Gogh, and the social vision of Kathe Kollwitz. Illustrated with personal photographs as well as some of Diego Rivera’s greatest works, My Art, My Life will rank among the most important books of recent years.
GLADYS MARCH studied art at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Museum in New York, the Pitti Palace in Florence. the Louvre in Paris, and the Prado in Madrid. She has written columns and features on kings, movie stars, and celebrities from all walks of life. But until she met Diego Rivera in 1945, on a newspaper assignment to interview him, she had never felt the desire to write a hook about any one person. The initial interview led to a ten-year project, during which years the artist dictated his life story to her. Mrs. March’s work was checked by Diego Rivera from time to time up to a few months before his death in 1957. The finished manuscript was read and approved by Emma Hurtado Rivera, the artist’s widow.

Photo of Abbott and Newsboys

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott

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In May 1905 Robert S. Abbott started publishing the Chicago Defender. The paper attacked racial injustice, particularly lynching in the south. The Defender did not use the words “Negro” or “black” in its pages. Instead, African Americans were referred to as “the Race” and black men and women as “Race men and Race women.” Many places in the south effectively banned the paper, especially when, during World War I, Abbott actively tried to convince southern blacks to migrate to the north. Abbott managed to get railroad porters to carry his papers south and he ran articles, editorials, cartoons -even train schedules and job listings to convince the Defender’s southern readers to come north. The “Great Northern Migration,” as it was called in the Defender, resulted in more than one million blacks migrating north, about 100,000 of them coming to Chicago. The Defender was passed from person to person, and read aloud in barbershops and churches. It is estimated that at its height each paper sold was read by four to five African Americans, putting its readership at over 500,000 people each week.

Son of ex-slaves, Abbott passed from small-town obscurity to national preeminence, due neither to great wealth nor hereditary status, but by sheer character, determination and imagination. He was a crusading journalist, who ultimately developed into a national leader, and, in the process, became a millionaire. As a newspaper editor, he influenced and molded the opinions of millions of Negroes in the United States, and therefore his career is of unique interest—indeed, his extraordinary achievement is a triumphant American success story.

The roots of greatness should be sought in a man’s formative years. Until now, most Negroes who have achieved anything noteworthy seemingly have no traceable background—notably Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver—and like Topsy seem merely to have “growed up.” But Abbott’s accomplishments represent continuity of family enterprise and perseverance. However, the purpose of this volume is not at all genealogical. Essentially, this is a biography of a people, for Abbott’s life and times spanned the most triumphant period of the Negro in the United States. Born three years after the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation, he lived to see and chronicle the spectacular progress of his people.

In the burgeoning economic times of the 1920s, with hundreds of new products and the growth of advertising, the Defender became an economic success and Abbott became one of the first African American millionaires.

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Launching Plane at Kitty Hawk

here

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With Calibre, you and your students can read this ebook in epub format on computer screens. By changing the background color, and enlarging the font, the reading experience on a computer screen is reasonable. On Chromebooks, the operating system will offer an ereading app when you open the epub file.

 

In this fascinating, highly readable biography, Fred C. Kelly, a former newspaperman, author, and an old friend of the Wrights, tells the story of the two brilliant, dedicated, flight-obsessed bicycle mechanics from Ohio who first realized mankind’s age-old dream of conquering the skies.

Long considered the definitive Wright biography (the manuscript was read and approved by Orville Wright), this book recounts the Wrights’ small-town boyhood, their early interest in all things mechanical, the establishment of the Wright Cycle Shop, and the complete behind-the-scenes story of how they designed, built, tested, and flew (December 1903) the first “Flyer.”

Enhanced with sixteen rare photographs, Mr. Kelly’s engaging account avoids minute technical description, yet describes simply and clearly the technological innovations that enabled the two brothers to succeed where so many others had failed. Anyone interested in the mechanics of flight or early aviation will find this volume a splendid introduction to the Wright brothers and their epochal achievement.

Grade level from a sample of four chapters in the Flesch-Kincaid analysis is 10.3.

Debs Speaking to a Crowd

Eugene V. Debs: A Man Unafraid by McAlister Coleman

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From a Review by H.L. Mencken in the American Mercury, August 1930.

“Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.”

MR. COLEMAN’S sub-title may seem a bit pretentious, but the record bears it out. Debs was one of those fanatics who are simply unacquainted with the meaning of fear. At a time when practically all of the other Socialists of America were running ignominiously for cover he stood his ground magnificently and went to jail without a quaver. He would have gone to the gallows, I believe, in the same serene and unperturbed manner. Perhaps it is something of a slander to call him a Socialist at all. He died without knowing more than the A B C of Marxism, and had relatively little to do with its chief prophets. The shabbiness of spirit that is their chief mark, at least on this side of the water, was not in him. An ignorant man, and, in more than one way, a childishly silly man, he yet managed to show a singular fineness of character.
Someday, I suppose, his admirers will be comparing him to Lincoln, as Lincoln is compared to Jesus. The likeness is faulty in each case. Lincoln was a far shrewder and more politic fellow than Jesus, and Debs was far braver and more forthright than Lincoln. In old Abe, in fact, the cross-roads politician was always visible. He never did anything without figuring out its consequences to five places of decimals, and when those consequences promised to damage his private fortunes he usually found a good reason to refrain. But Debs banged through life without caring a damn, innocent and cocksure. He got into trouble very often, but I can find no evidence that he was ever bothered by doubts.
If common decency ever gets any credit in America, and the schoolbooks are revised accordingly, there will be a chapter in them on the great encounter between Debs and Woodrow Wilson. They never met face to face, for Wilson was in the White House and Debs was in prison; nevertheless, their souls came together, and it was old Gene’s that won hands down.
The conflict between them had been fought out in the world many times before, but never by two such perfect champions. On the side of Wilson were power, eminence, learning, glory, a vast forensic skill, a haughty manner, and the almost unanimous support of the American press and people; on the side of Debs there was only the dignity of an honest and honorable man. Debs remained behind the bars, but Wilson danced naked before the world, exposed to posterity as the abject and pathetic bounder that he was. It was his tragedy that he was not only quite unable to achieve decency himself, but also quite unable to recognize it in other men. When he died Harding turned Debs loose, with a gesture both generous and charming. Thus it remained for a boozy Elk out of the Jimson weed country to teach manners to a Princeton Presbyterian….
The whole labor movement in the United States is in the hands of sleek, oily gentlemen who have learned that it is far more comfortable to make terms with the bosses than to fight them. These gentlemen, as I have said, are well fed and well tailored, and have no sympathy with dreamers. Presently they will be collecting money for a monument to old Sam Gompers. But they will never propose a monument to Debs. • In the long run, however, he will probably be recalled, at all events by romantics. There was genuinely heroic blood in him, though he sacrificed himself to a chimera. Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.

Patrick Henry: Firebrand of the Revolution by Nardi Campion, Reading Level is 5.6

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“Firebrand” is an engaging biography of a pivotal figure in America’s fight for independence.

A reviewer from Goodreads writes “This is an older biography of Patrick Henry (1961), with target audience of middle school/junior high. Overall, this was a really excellent read, with plenty of details about Henry’s life and career, but not too overwhelming. It’s written to engage younger readers, so there is some dialogue and little anecdotes along the way, but most of these stories added to the character development of Henry, helping us to see what shaped him throughout his younger years and even as an adult.”