In this more-than-narrative history of the United States, Joy Hakim's conversational voice presents the story of our country in terms that are not self-consciously didactic. Hakim's prose is surprisingly adaptable, ranging easily between story-time simplicity and a more complex style for sections dealing with ideas.
Each volume is illustrated with dozens of vintage drawings, paintings, photographs and maps, many of them in full color. While these aren't typical textbooks, there are some textbook-like features, including supplementary vocabulary, insets with little-known or important facts about people and dates, appendices, maps, etc. Teacher materials are available from the author's website.
This is history as most of us wish we'd had it—cool, literate, informative. Hakim is never dry, but she also avoids the opposite mistakes of relying solely on stories or of fictionalizing her account. A History of US was written for all ages, from grade 2 to adults. If you're planning on having your younger kids read these books, the main drawback will probably be Hakim's unabashed secularism. For high schoolers and adults, Clarence Carson's Basic History of the United States series could be a good balance to Hakim's liberalism.
History is famously boring. A History of US is not boring, but it's not silly, either. This is real history that is really interesting. If you want your kids to suffer in history as much as you did, look elsewhere. If, however, you're a kind-hearted soul who wants your kids to enjoy their academic ventures, this is a good choice.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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