Friday, March 13, 2015

Rockin' the Boat

Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X Jeff Fleischer

Woo-hoo! I'm back on Zest's Rockin' Blog Tour.

Much like Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! this new offering by Zest is a little more text-y than previous similar titles, and is a more YA-friendly trim size.

In this one, Fleischer looks at 50 iconic revolutionaries (in case you couldn't figure that out from the subtitle) with a brief introduction to their life, any context you need to know about what they were rebelling against, and what their revolution was. Most also have a pull-out box or two about the lasting legacy of their rebellion or how history and/or pop culture has changed their story (such as the real story of William Wallace vs. Braveheart)

Arranged in chronological order, the first part is pretty heavy on the anti-Romans (Hannibal! Boudica! Cleopatra!) Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson are here, as are Metacom, Tecumseh, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Liliukalani. Other Americans include Daniel Shays, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X and Marting Luter King, Jr. (If I counted correctly, 19 are Americans or were rebelling against something in the US, or doing it in what would become the US.)

It's not all white guys, and it's not all winners, which is a serious win. I also like while they are all certainly political revolutionaries, it's a nice blend between reformers and those who went to war. I would have liked to see more outside of the Americas and Europe, especially some less-known names. I mean some of these Americans are a bit obscure (Mary Harris Jones), and some of the early European ones definitely are (Vercingetroix, Arminus, Owain Glyndwr) but most of the ones south of the US aren't (Che, Castro, Simon Bolivar, Pancho Villa) And the ones that are further afield are pretty well known (Mao Zedong, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Ataturk, Nelson Mandela). The one exception is New Zealand, where we get Hone Heke and Kate Sheppard.

It's a great introduction to some serious empire building and tearing down (as much as there is a lot of focus on the anti-Romans--8 out of 50, it also really shows the sweep of the Roman Empire, as well as its definite limits.) As well as major political movements, which still very much shape our world today.

While it's an easy one to dip in and out of, I recommend reading it in order, as many of the revolutions build on each other, or reference each other, so the context from a previous chapter is often useful, which is why the chronological order works so well here. Everything's only 3-5 pages, but it covers enough so people know what went down and why. IT's also short enough you think "oh, I can read just one more" and then you end up finishing the book in one session. (NOT THAT DID THAT. *whistles while looking innocent*) This is a great one for a wide range of readers and I really really really wish it had been around in 2012 when the National History Day theme was "Revolution, Reaction, and Reform". So many teens didn't know where to even start picking one-- I would have loved to be able to have them leaf through this book for inspiration!

Another fun and engaging, but still wildly informative, one from Zest.

Book Provided by... Zest, for blog tour inclusion

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