Book Cover with the Image of Dr. Salk

The Polio Man: The Story of Dr. Jonas Salk by John Rowland

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“Absorbing book . . . Young teenagers who read it will come away with a profound respect for the modest doctor.”—Kansas City Star

“Inspiring biography . . . conveys to the reader the personal rewards of a life devoted to science.”—Booklist

“Includes good background history of early-polio epidemics, theories, and work still in progress . . . approach is authoritative and objective.”—Library Journal

“He read everything he could lay his hand on,” a teacher of young Jonas recalled—and indeed Dr. Salk’s interest in great medical problems goes back to his student days in New York City. Even then he was fascinated by the mysterious virus and its role ill infantile paralysis.

On April 12, 1955, it was announced to the world that Dr. Jonas Salk had successfully tested a polio vaccine. A true man of Science, Dr. Salk had not minded the long hours of hard work in the laboratory which led to that exciting day, because he believed in the importance of his goal. By 1956 over 50 million people had been vaccinated and Dr. Salk’s fame had spread everywhere— to England, Poland, Hungary, Israel.

Dr. Salk is a great scientist but he is also a great humanitarian and fame has not lessened by his desire to serve mankind and carry on his struggle against disease. Readers who have yet to choose their life’s goal will find Dr. Salk’s story a challenge and an inspiration.

Photo of WEB DuBois

W.E.B. Du Bois: His Was the Voice by Emma Gelders Sterne (For Young Adults)

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Teacher, social scientist, historian, poet, prophet—his was the voice that demanded equality, respect and dignity for the black man in a society that denied his humanity.

The memory of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois is as important to the past and future of this country as any revolutionary figure before or since. Yet for years he was unknown to white America and, as a victim of the McCarthy witch hunts of the fifties, rejected by his countrymen. In this dramatic, candid biography, Emma Gelders Sterne presents W. E. B. Du Bois to a new generation that is entitled to the truth about the black man who cried “Freedom Now!” and “Black Power” when no one was willing to listen.

Drawing from the private papers of Du Bois himself, his publications, and the confidences of those who knew and worked with him, Mrs. Sterne has written an unconventional story that reads like fiction but tells the little-known facts of a fascinating life. Thanks to the support of Dr. Herbert Aptheker, Du Bois’ close friend and literary executor, Mrs. Sterne was allowed to examine unpublished materials by and about Du Bois.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Massachusetts in 1868, three years after the emancipation of the slaves. His entire life was devoted to freeing those former slaves and their offspring from the burden of second-class citizenship. A brilliant scholar and orator who was graduated with honors from Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois was a pioneer social scientist, champion of the emerging African nations, and a founder and controversial member of the NAACP.

He wrote nineteen books, hundreds of articles and poems, and created and edited two literary magazines. But most remarkable of all was W. E. B. Du Bois the man: a uniquely American patriot and prophet who, denied the right to return to his homeland, died in exile in Ghana in 1963—still a revolutionary at the great age of ninety-five.

A testimonial from a librarian:

“To the youth of today (and those of age who engage in creative thinking) from a librarian who believes in the power of the ‘word . . .’ ”

“I urge you to read this book. It will make you think. William Du Bois searched all of his life for directions that black and other Americans should take. I do not agree with some of the directions he has suggested and you may or may not! But he has anticipated this reaction and left an answer: ‘What I have done well will live long and justify my life. What I have done ill or never finished can now be handed down to others.’

“He was a man who was jailed by his government and refused entrance to the land of his birth. He was ignored by the people he sought to help and yet he left another message especially for you: ‘One thing I charge you. As you live, believe in life. Always human beings will progress to greater, broader, and fuller lives….’ ”

Harriett B. Brown
Supervisor of Libraries
Board of Education, New York City

The Author:
EMMA GELDERS STERNE, a former teacher and editor, has written more than twenty books in the past forty years, including Mary McLeod Bethune; Benito Juarez, Builder of a Nation; I Have a Dream; and They Took Their Stand. The recipient of many awards over the years, she was honored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which established a children’s fund in her name.

Cover with Image of Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American by Phillips Russell

Let it be said at once that this book, whatever its de­fects, is absorbingly interesting.

The author, obviously, is thoroughly acquainted with Franklin literature and has had access to a great mass of unpublished material. But in a sense it is not a biography. Rather it is a picture, an excellent pen-picture, which even with its exaggerated light and shade may well give one a better understanding of the fascinating personality of America’s first diplomat, inventor and man of letters to say nothing of the many other things he was “first” in.

Franklin was essentially an unconventional character. He was never content to accept things as they were and always examined everything with his keen intelligence and more often than not, apparently, succeeded in rearranging facts in such new forms that they astounded the people of his generation. Many of his inventions, his humorous, semiphilosophical treatises, his excursions into common-sense diplomacy and his positive genius for publicity estab­lished precedents, whose originality it is hard now for us to realize, since they are very part and parcel of our present day American life.

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Thus the author makes a charge that Franklin’s popular “Poor Richard” maxims, the result of his hard work and somewhat unsuccessful early career, “well nigh drove out from the spirit of the American people all tendency to a love for leisure and a cultivation of the graceful arts, made it its literature didactic, and its arts timid.” In fact, “it established a rock of philosophic materialism.” This may, in a measure, be true, but one suspects that his maxims were a symptom rather than a cause. Certainly Franklin, as the author is careful to point out, was not entirely success­ful in following his own precepts, or even the thirteen prin­ciples of the art of virtue, which it is suggested were per­haps inspired by Franklin’s hottest appreciation of his own defects.

But Franklin’s frailties as set forth by the author are very human. Certainly they do not seriously impair the true measure of his greatness or achievement. If he was fond of women, he was frank about it and if his whimsical humor was sometimes broad, it was more often than not, utilized to further the essentials of Franklin’s philosophy to “do good.” When one realizes how unbelievably limited were the intellectual resources in the colonies when Franklin began his career as a printer’s apprentice in Boston, the story of his rise to such heights as a world figure in the most cultured center of Europe has more the quality of romance than reality. During his ten-year stay in Paris he became the idol of the intellectuals. His face in bronze and marble was everywhere and his fame was only shared with Voltaire. The two met as guests of honor at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences where they embraced one another at the insistent demand of the members. Yet with all this honor he remained the same whimsical, tolerant spirit, making love to many younger women, carrying on his experiments, running hs own interpretative printing press at Passy and wheedling millions of francs out of the French Government for the benefit of his native land.

Over half this book is devoted to Franklin’s earlier life and struggles. The real achievements of his career are sketched, sometimes summarily, in the later chapters, yet it is a merit of this book that the author manages in good measure to reveal the fundamental reasons for his rise to a position as one of the great men of his times.

Publishers have brought the book out in a most attractive form. The illustrations are well chosen and in many cases new and include reproductions of a number of interesting letters.

From a review in The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 33, 1927.

(Publisher’s Note: The first text which the reader will see is “A Prefactory Catechism,” a term we don’t see too often. Essentially it is four pages of questions and answers about the basic facts of Franklin’s life. Don’t let unusual feature stop you from enjoying the book. The writer makes Franklin and his times come alive in the chapters which follow.)

BooK Cover with Photo of Edison Sitting

Thomas Edison: American Inventor by Ray Eldon Hiebert and Roselyn Hiebert

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A self-made man with little formal education, Thomas Edison had a remarkable mind and possessed the imagination, creative ability, self-confidence, and perseverance to succeed brilliantly in his field. It was he who perfected the incandescent electric bulb, improved on the telephone, made the first phonograph, and pioneered motion pictures. The list of his other inventions is long.
His traits were so common to the traditional American character of his day that he can right¬fully be called “an American inventor.” Most important was his ability to work hard. From the time he was twelve years old until-he reached his middle eighties he worked, often day and night. By trial and error he patiently attacked problems until he found their solutions. With his men he perfected the teamwork approach to systematic research. His laboratories at Menlo Park and West Orange, New Jersey, were the early models for the huge industrial research and development institutions of today.
In a biography rich with anecdote, Roselyn and Ray Eldon Hiebert present an unforgettable picture of this lively and colorful man—a true rugged individualist.

Image of Tom Paine on book cover

Tom Paine-America’s Godfather by W. E. Woodward, Grade Level is 10.3

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An excerpt from a review in The New York Times:

Paine’s Career Highly Dramatic
Mr. Woodward writes of Paine with the brisk and lively vigor that has distinguished all his books. Subtleties of character analysis and beauties of language he leaves to others. But he has a sharp eye for the salient fact, the significant detail. What is the use, he seems to say, of being admired by scholars if only scholars read your books? What is the use of being accurate if you are not interesting? “Tom Paine” provides an answer. It will be read because it is interesting. It records the dramatic career of a great man in able fashion. And what a career it was!

Paine was largely self-educated, poor, a failure and often hungry until he came to America just in time to plunge, into the Revolution. In later years he went to England and was outlawed for sedition against the King. And in France he was a member of the Revolutionary Convention and in that body fought bravely but to no avail to save the life of Louis XVI. But the bloodthirsty Jacobins prevailed and the Committee of Public Safety imprisoned Paine and condemned him to death by the guillotine. He escaped only because of the carelessness of a jail guard who neglected to mark his cell door with the fatal sign in chalk.

Thomas Paine was the friend of Franklin, Lafayette, Washington, Jefferson and Monroe. His written words helped to change the course of history. It is easy to see why when we read again the most famous of them all: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this con¬solation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”
Orville Prescott, June 22, 1945.

Cover with Photograph of Eleanor Roosevelt

Mrs. R: The Story of Eleanor Roosevelt by Alfred Steinberg

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“Mrs. R.” is a clear objective year-by-year account of the life of one of the world’s most famous women. Enjoy a biography by a writer who knew Eleanor Roosevelt and was able to interview her contemporaries.

The writer Alfred Steinberg is well known for his biographies of Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sam Rayburn. He also wrote more than 200 magazine articles, as well as book reviews and features for the Washington Post, the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s, Collier’s, and American Heritage.

Mr. Steinberg’s books included “Mrs. R,” this biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he had known when she was United States Representative to the United Nations; “The Man From Missouri,” a biography of Truman, and “Sam Johnson’s Boy,” about Lyndon Johnson.

This was the first full-length biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, based upon her personal papers, when published in 1958. Previously known only through her own three-volume autobiography, Mrs. Roosevelt had remained something of a mystery and a legend, beloved by millions and disliked by some.

Over 4,000 of her personal letters and other private papers at the Hyde Park memorial library were studied by the author. He has woven all known sources of information into an extremely lively story, with the warmth and mastery of a fine novelist.

Here is the lonely childhood, disrupted by the death of loved ones, the shy emergence into wealthy society, the court-ship by Franklin under the possessive authority of his mother, the day-to-day events of Campobello and polio, the young wife’s reluctant participation in politics as the “eyes, ears and legs” of the man of destiny.

The reader will also see how the programs of the New Deal developed during the Depression, and how the Roosevelts worked together to repeal the Neutrality Acts in order to aid Great Britain at the start of World War II.

Eleanor Roosevelt became one of the world’s great travelers in her search for pertinent information concerning the state of all nations. Always the champion of the underdog, she gradually evolved into a figure alone and apart. Neither her husband’s death nor her own advancing age cut down the influence of this notable woman upon notable events.

An Excerpt from a Review by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The New York Times, October 12, 1958.

First Lady of the World
Mrs. R.: The Story of Eleanor Roosevelt. By Alfred Steinberg. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Mr. Steinberg has gone through the Roosevelt literature and talked with many survivors of the Roosevelt era. He was also, he states, permitted to examine “the personal papers, record books and voluminous correspondence of Mrs. Roosevelt.” (Unfortunately “Mrs. R.” contains no footnotes, and one cannot usually distinguish between what is quoted from a document and what has popped up in someone’s recollection.) He begins with the troubled childhood, describes the reluctant emergence of the shy and awkward girl and follows through the transformation into the capable but somewhat gushing matron and finally into the incomparable First Lady of the World.The story is told briskly and sympathetically but not. altogether uncritically; on such matters as the Roosevelts as parents, Mr. Steinberg writes with candor. The result is a piece of intelligent and readable, journalism. …

…I think,too, that Mrs Roosevelt who emerges from this book as a somewhat blander character than she really is. Mr, Steinberg quotes from one of her letters to President Truman. “There are two things which I wish to avoid above all else,” Mrs, Roosevelt wrote, “one, war; two, a Republican victory.” These two wishes express succinctly the different aspects of Mrs. Roosevelt’s personality: on the one hand, the luminous idealist, yearning for the good, the true and the beautiful; on the other, the old pro, filled with canny and salty realism. Mr. Steinberg does more Justice to the first than to the second.

Image of Abraham Lincoln on Book Cover

Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty

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James Henry Daugherty (1889-1974), winner of a Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature, was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but grew up in Indiana and Ohio. When he was 9, the family moved to Washington D.C., where he studied at the Corcoran School of Art, and the Philadelphia Art Academy. He then spent two years in London studying under Frank Brangwyn.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Daugherty “won distinction as a writer and illustrator of children’s books on American historical themes.”

Mr. Daugherty’s books of biography and frontier tales include “Abraham Lincoln,” “The Landing of the Pilgrims,” “West of Boston” and “Their Weight in Wildcats.”

Daugherty’s first publication was an illustration for John Flemming Wilson’s series, Tad Sheldon, Boy Scout (1913). He then worked camouflaging ships and creating four murals in Loew’s State Theatre, Cleveland, while illustrating fiction, and signed and unsigned magazine work. In 1925 he was asked to illustrate R.H. Horne’s King Penguin which he describes as the first book he ever illustrated. In 1926 S.E. White’s Daniel Boone, Wilderness Scout appeared, with Daugherty illustrations. He won the Newbery in 1940 for his self-illustrated Daniel Boone and was runner-up for two Caldecott Medals with Andy and the Lion, 1939, and Gillespie and the Guards, 1957.

Cover with photo of FDR

Franklin Roosevelt: The Early Years of the New Deal in America (Illustrated) by P. J. O’Brien

Grade Level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale is 13.7. Download an epub version for your Android tablet or phone:

Download a mobi file for your Kindle device: This is the story of some of the most dynamic years in the political history of the United States. Every student whose parents or grandparents have ever received Social Security, or benefited from a low-down payment FHA mortgage, or received unemployment insurance has Franklin Roosevelt to thank. After his inauguration in March 1933, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to build new programs to support the poor and the unemployed. He sought to save homes, farms and banks at risk of being lost during the Depression, and he did. What were these programs, and could any of them have worked in our century, such as during the crisis which started in 2008?

Directions on how to email this file to your device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see these instructions .

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

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.


Cover of the Legend of John Brown Top Half has an image of John Brown

The Legend of John Brown: A Biography and a History by Richard Owen Boyer

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From The New York Times:
“Boyer’s book is more than a life of John Brown. It is a tapestry of the whole of American life in the generation that slid into civil war. It is a rich weave. Here is old John Quincy Adams, in his seventies, cured of his psychosomatic carbuncles by the sheer exhilaration of the struggle against the slaveowners in Congress. Here is the pro-slavery mob at Alton on the Mississippi, weeping at the sheer eloquence of the abolitionist editor, Elijah Lovejoy, but shooting him down just the same. Here is the slave rebel, Nat Turner, taunted by a Tidewater planter about his approaching execution, and answering, as John Brown himself would have answered, “Was not Christ crucified?”
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Thaddeus Stevens: Militant democrat and fighter for Negro rights

Thaddeus Stevens: Militant democrat and fighter for Negro rights

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The writer makes the political energy and moral intensity of Thaddeus Stevens clear to readers in this short, 40 page pamphlet. What was the fate of the Freedmen after the Civil War? What economic opportunities were available to them? What were Stevens’s plans for Reconstruction? Were they enacted? 

Thaddeus Stevens
 (April 4, 1792 – August 11, 1868) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. He was one of the leaders of the Radical Republican faction of the Republican Party during the 1860s. A fierce opponent of slavery and discrimination against African Americans, Stevens sought to secure their rights during Reconstruction, leading the opposition to U.S. President Andrew Johnson. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee during the American Civil War, he played a leading role, focusing his attention on defeating the Confederacy, financing the war with new taxes and borrowing, crushing the power of slave owners, ending slavery, and securing equal rights for the Freedmen.

As the most powerful leader in Congress of the Radical Republicans, he asked the nation what would political rights mean after the Civil War “without jobs, land, bread and shelter.”