Reviews of my books

 

Native Americans and the Reservation in American History

March/April 1997

The Book Report — The plight of the Native Americans at the hands of the European settlers is traced. This book also focuses on many of the tribes’ movements and relocation. The decision to place Native Americans on government-run reservations is discussed as well as the situation that exists on present day reservations. Adding to the interest and usefulness of the books are direct quotations from primary sources. Chapter notes allow for further research on the topics discussed. Social studies classes will find it useful in researching these issues. B&W photos; maps; charts; time line. Recommended.

School Library Journal — In this overview, McCormick calmly and clearly presents the history of relationships between Native Americans and white settlers. Sufficient background is provided to enable readers to understand the basics of the situations without becoming bogged down in details. Historical and cultural beliefs and behaviors are presented to help explain why each group acted as it did. The writing is lively and organized efficiently enough to invite and encourage research. The chapters are laced with cited quotations to add perspective and authenticity. The illustrations include reproductions of documents, drawings, paintings, and photographs. Because they are all in black and white and mostly small, they fail to give this book the visual impact it deserves. The author does a superb job of presenting facts and opinions while allowing readers to draw conclusions. Most young people will come away from this volume with a new appreciation of the tribulations of Native Americans, from the U.S. government’s establishment of the first official reservation in 1638 to the present day. An excellent addition to round out any collection.

The Horn Book Guide — In American History series. McCormick describes the development of reservations established for Native Americans, beginning with the point of first contact with the Europeans on the East Coast and concluding with life on the reservations in the 1990s. Chapter notes list a wide range of authors considered authorities on Native American history. Black-and-white photographs and a time line add to the usefulness of the text. Bib., index

The Internet: Issues in Focus

August 1, 1998 (Nonfiction, ages 11-14)

Kirkus Reviews — The latest entry in the Issues in Focus series covers the growth and development of the Internet, its history and potential future, and some of its uses, especially as it applies to children. In this context, McCormick discusses a range of issues, from control and censorship to security, spamming, privacy, and the limits to the Internet’s growth. She concludes with extensive back matter, including guides to newsgroups and organizations. The discussion of controversies is dispassionate and balanced; the author leaves the answers to some questions open. Such a thorough summary of facts and opinions on a still-new medium will be useful to students doing research, and to educators looking to lay out the facts for nervous parents. (chronology, notes, glossary, bibliography, index)

Booklist — From a brief examination of the beginnings of the Internet to a lengthier discussion of its future, McCormick explores a variety of controversies as well as positive uses of this most intriguing of technologies. Organized around the major issues of control, security, equity, and access, the book addresses such topics as filters, pornography, viruses, encryption, Web TV, and Internet 2. Although none are examined in depth, enough information is provided to allow readers to begin to form opinions or launch further research. Writing a book about anything as volatile and fast moving as the Internet is a gamble, but McCormick has addressed enough broad-based, far-reaching issues to make her book a reasonable option as a print resource on the topic to round out a collection. Includes a list of organizations to contact, a time line of Internet development, chapter notes, a glossary, and suggested further reading.

School Library Journal — An overview of the history, the mechanics, and the use of the Internet, presented in a clear and readable format. The pros and cons of the issues associated with surfing are discussed and controversial subjects such as child pornography, hate groups, cults, and censorship are explored. The chapter notes and list of organizations to contact will be of particular interest to report writers. This book will also appeal to general readers.

The Book Report — McCormick develops the Internet’s history and discusses information and entertainment that would appeal to teenagers. The benefits of easy access to an almost unlimited amount of information have started to change the way people lived, worked, and spent their free time. Students and teachers profit because the capabilities of the Internet provide interest, and learning becomes exciting and fun. But one of the issues involved in the use of the Internet is the question of who controls it. Drawbacks such as misinformation, social isolation, addiction to surfing the Web, pornography, scams, and recruitment of new members by hate groups or cults are explained. The issues here are crime, invasion of privacy, and a code of ethics. For the most part, the text is well-documented and clear. The book is a valuable first-source book for research projects, and a good source to find the meaning of unfamiliar words. There is a glossary, index, and b&w pictures. In addition, there is a guide to Internet Newsgroups, a listing of organizations to contact, and a time line of the Internet’s development since 1969, beginning with the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Recommended.

The Industrial Revolution in American History

November/December 1998

The Book Report — Students looking for information on the industrial revolution will find this book very helpful. The introduction draws the reader into the activities at the first World’s Fair in Philadelphia. Short chapters trace the history of the industrial revolution from its beginning in 18th century England through to its decline in the 20th century. Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie and their contributions are among those mentioned in the text. B&W photographs are scattered throughout the book and help establish a feeling for the period. Time line; table of contents; index; suggested reading; chapter notes. Recommended.

The Horn Book Guide — In American History series. In these informative volumes, three seminal events in United States history are recounted in detailed, but never dull prose. Each proves absorbing reading. Unfortunately, the quality of the scattered black-and-white photographs does not equal that of the texts. Time lines are included. Bib.

Booklist – The Industrial Revolution in American History, from the In American History series, describes many of the same innovations and social changes discussed in the other book. The larger type and smaller pages limit the space available, but by focusing on American history and ending its time frame in 1946, this book competently surveys the topic as McCormick defines it. The illustrations include black-and-white reproductions of period photos, portraits, and documents.

The Vietnam Antiwar Movement in American History

April 200

VOYA — “The Vietnam War, the longest in American history, changed the nature of political protest in this country forever. Now, some thirty years after America first became involved, these two titles attempt to help today’s students understand the impact of a historical event that continues to affect every aspect of social culture. McCormick’s contribution covers much of the same ground, but her use of source documents gives an added dimension to the facts. Both titles include information about the violent confrontations between authority figures and pacifists, such as those witnessed during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, when police and demonstrators battled in the streets. Both authors pay tribute to an event that no member of the Baby Boom generation will ever forget the killings at Kent State University in Ohio, in which a clash between National Guardsmen and college students resulted in the deaths of four students and wounding of nine others.

Although the war officially ended with the signing of the Paris peace agreement in January of 1973, the national grieving and healing process continues today. Includes a section addressing lessons learned and the aftereffects of the war, from the geographical devastation of Vietnam itself to the financial and emotional costs of the war on American citizens. McCormick’s time line will help students gain a sense of how the war evolved, concisely and effectively describing the historical events that led up to the conflict. Pairing these two titles, both of which contain poignant black-and-white photographs that document key events and people of the war, will provide students with an excellent introduction to a war that defined their parents and grandparents’ generations.”

The Pony Express in American History

2001

Children’s Literature — Can you imagine the day when postage for a letter will cost over five dollars? Well, it has already happened. In the days when ten dollars meant you were well off, it took most of your “wealth” to send a letter across the country. Your letter was dependent upon a 120 pound man riding a horse as fast as he could. He would cover around 15 miles and then hand off your letter to another rider who in turn repeated the same pattern. At $120 a month, the riders held good jobs while also receiving room and board. In 1860, Johnny Fry, believed to be the first rider, set off on the initial ride of the Pony Express. That same year, telegraph lines were strung nearly across the country. Even with this spreading marvel in technology, the riders were greatly needed to pass messages from non-wired areas to wired areas for transmittal. This included the announcement of Lincoln’s winning bid for the presidency. Losing money at a rate of over $1000 a day, the Pony Express’s days were numbered, and it closed after just a year and a half in business. The riders gained their place in history, having battled fatigue, the elements and hostile Indians in their trek to deliver the mail. This text has interesting inside stories about the background of the business and its struggles to remain active. This book will definitely be added to my history collection for my students.

The Invention of the Telegraph and Telephone in American History

Fall 2004

The Horn Book Guide In American History series. The earlier telegraph and the later telephone revolutionized communication in America. this book outlines the development of the two technologies, including background information on the inventors. Black-and-white pictures include a reproduction of Bell’s earliest sketches. Reading list, timeline, website.

Shortwave Radio Listening For Beginners

Booklist — Shortwave radio is becoming more–not less–popular in this age of the computer; in fact, many ham enthusiasts use computer modems in their broadcasts. In her excellent primer, McCormick explains why shortwave is so much easier to receive over long distances than FM or AM and offers profiles of some of the major shortwave broadcasters worldwide. These include the BBC; Deutsche Welle, the “Voice of Germany”; the evangelical station, HCJB, in Quito, Ecuador; Radio for Peace International, in Costa Rica; Radio New Zealand, which relays a great deal of local AM programming; and the wild WWCR of Nashville, which offers an open programming that sometimes includes a link with pirate stations. McCormick discusses those pirate stations, which often have political agendas but sometimes go on the air simply to foil the FCC. She includes a summary of equipment the beginner will need; tables, with band frequencies, of shortwave and clear-channel AM stations; and appendixes covering clubs, associations, and publishers devoted to radio. McCormick is an entertaining writer, and her book will indeed tell beginners what they need to know. (Reviewed May 15, 1993)John Mort.

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