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4.7 out of 5 stars
George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides
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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2005
We read this book as part of my son's studies of the American Revolution. In all honesty, until he began these studies, I'd never given much thought to George Washington - now I find myself fascinated by this man's character. While I've graduated to adult literature about our first President, I continue to read my son's books, as well. As this title suggests, the author attempts to present facts (drawn from historical documents) about the Revolutionary War, George Washington and King George III and to demonstrate the two men's reasoning behind the decisions they made and draw parallels between them. I got the feeling that she really wants us to "like" George III, because, according to her research, a majority of Britains did, and he wasn't really a "tyrant". She indicates that while our Declaration of Independence puts all the blame on George III, it was really Great Britain's Parliament that was to blame. George III never meant to harm anyone. Hmmmm. I'll reserve comment on that.

If you're looking for a lot of info about George Washington, this really isn't the book. If you want a children's book where the author attempts to give a look at both sides of the war, she does that here. Her artwork is wonderful in its simplicity, yet still loaded with detail.

One thing missing from this book, since it's as much about differences as it is parallels...My son wondered if George III ever actually fought for his country like George Washington did.

And then, Schanzer has Washington smiling broadly during the charge of the Battle of Princeton, as he says "It's a fine fox chase, my boys." I doubt he smiled at all, simply because he was continuously troubled by painful tooth problems, wore dismally uncomfortable dentures and was very self conscious of the whole matter. And from everything else I've read so far, a smile in the midst of battle, no matter how victorious he might have felt after Trenton, doesn't seem to fit with who he was.

The reading age range is listed as 9-12. My son is a struggling reader at age 11. He was reluctant to read it, so this was one I read to him. He asked a lot of questions and spent much time examining the illustrations - it took us quite a while to get through it, but he says he likes the book.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2010
Agree with the many positive reviews about this book. I found the illustrations to be exceptional. The text offered clear descriptions of history, but it is up to the reader to interpret to which side the statements should be attributed. Could be confusing for some younger readers. The true descriptions of the tragedy of war (including rape and cannibalism) are mentioned but not elaborated upon in the next, so ensure that your reader is ready for that information. I enjoyed the book and will read selections from it with my 8 year old. And will read it in full with my older children.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2007
Beautifully illustrated book on Revolutionary War that helps explain the war by comparing George Washington and King George III. Accurate information, clearly expressed in readable prose with a good story line. Humorous and very colorful artwork is very appealing. My grandsons, ages 8 and 10, loved it, and so did I. Highly recommend this book, especially if your children are turned off by "history."
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2010
Unless you are already a serious historian, I promise you will learn something from this book. It... it may not always be what you WANT to learn (for example, that the Revolutionaries committed atrocities against the Iroquois), but you're bound to learn SOMEthing new.

This is a diligently researched book. Do not let the fact that it is a "picture book" fool you - this book is written at about a seventh grade reading level, and it shows. Many pages of dense text, and a lot more informative than most textbooks I had through high school!

The author worked hard to avoid painting the British and the Loyalists as monsters - and they weren't! They had reasons for their actions just the same as the revolutionaries did. Likewise, she doesn't present the patriots as unalloyed saints - and they weren't, any more than you and I are! They did good things for good reasons, good things for selfish reasons, and bad things for the same reason anybody does bad things. And yes, horrific acts were committed by both sides in this war, against enemies and innocents alike.

The illustrations and quotations enliven and complement the text, but they do not take over the book. I really advise this book for ANYbody wanting to learn more about the Revolution.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2008
My 8 and 11 year old boys (and I, I must admit), were drawn in by this book and it's interesting illustrations. The page illustrating the different types of soldiers used by each side in the war is just the sort of thing a boy needs to engage his brain in the reading of a "boring" history book! The illustrated diagram of British government, for another example, is so much more effective than a dry paragraph describing the parliamentary system. Thus drawn in, the material found is well-presented. Not perfect, but very good. I did appreciate the author's attempt to present consideration of "both sides," rather than the typical black and white portayal of pure, heroic Americans vs. an evil, irrational enemy. Highly recommended by this homeschooling Mom.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2008
This is a great book for elementary and middle school wanting to learn about the revolution. The comic book format makes many of the more complex concepts easy to grasp, and the "Britain vs. America" paradigm teaches that history really depends on the point of view of the person teaching it. For example, the American Colonists are called "rebels" in the book. And so they were, but that description gives the work the American revolutionaries did more heft because it puts them in an historical and political context.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The best thing about this book is that the author takes the time to tell the story of the American Revolution. Unlike many children's history writers, Rosalyn Schnanzer is not afraid of complexity and detail. Having finished the book, I felt my nine year old son had a solid overview of what took place during the American Revolution.

However, I have two problems with the book. First, Schnanzer emphasis on the life of George III seems to be misplaced. Although an important historical figure, it is inaccurate to portray him as having an equal stature as George Washington. It is Washington's story that really drives the American Revolution and the early years of the American Republic. Second, I think her illustrations do not fit with a historical book. They strike me as better suited to fiction for a younger set. They are cute but not a good fit. Finally, I think Betsy Maestro's "Liberty or Death" is a much better book. Like Schnanzer, Betsy Maestro is not afraid of a complex story. What make her book better is that she tells the story without creating an artificial duality between the two Georges.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2010
This picture book provides an interesting look at the American struggle for independence. Its value lies in how it chronicles important events from the dual perspectives of the American colonists as well as the British, helping children to understand that the same historical event can be interpreted differently from different vantage points.

It is of additional value because its illustrated format makes the Revolutionary War accessible to lower elementary students who typically prefer their text to be accompanied by drawings. (As a nice touch, the colorful illustrations are peppered with speech balloons containing real quotes from real people about the various events taking place on each page.) The text, while simple, appears well researched and the author nicely provides more studious readers with a bibliography and index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 27, 2015
I teach college-level history and, with a baby due any day, I was browsing Barnes & Noble’s children’s history section when I came across this book. It’s a wonderful surprise, doing in under 60 beautifully illustrated pages what I spend semesters trying to do in my US History classes.

Rosalyn Schanzer’s George vs. George aims to present both sides of the Revolutionary War and does a wonderful job. The two Georges of the title are George Washington and King George III, and the book begins by comparing and contrasting them, humanizing both in the process. The two Georges are also the book’s way in to describing the times and places in which they lived and the roles they played in American history.

What you won’t find in this book are stories about cherry trees or wooden teeth or the bloody tyrant King George. Instead, Schanzer presents the reader with two principled people on opposing sides of a divisive issue, and she lays out simply how they arrived at their positions and why. Along the way she gives a brief history of the growing crisis in the colonies, the War for Independence, the Declaration, and what came after—for both Georges. The Revolutionary era has been romanticized unlike any other, and Schanzer—in an age-appropriate way—strips away a lot of the gloss and shows the heroism and brutality of both sides. There were plenty of both.

Schanzer’s text is informative and her illustrations are wonderful. They range from two-page battle scenes, of which the best is probably the Lexington and Concord spread, to what might be called infographics, laying out with simple, engaging pictures the way the British and colonial governments worked, what kind of soldiers fought in both armies, and so forth. Sprinkled throughout are drawings of other figures of the period with their perspectives on events given in their own words. And these are not limited to obvious movers and shakers like Jefferson and Franklin but include others like Samuel Johnson, Patrick Henry, much-dehumanized British generals like Gage and Howe, and ordinary men and women from both sides.

The versions of Revolutionary history many of us grew up with were oversimplified, and detrimentally so. The real story in all its complexity is much more interesting, and George vs. George is an ideal introduction to a rich and important part of our past.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
I really enjoyed this book as an adult who doesn't like history all that much. It gives an unbiased view of what happened leading up to, during, and after the revolutionary war (it only has a few pages after the war). I liked one of the page spreads that had information in the form of a diagram to show how each of our governments worked before the war (in America it was slightly different).

In the beginning it gave a short biography of both Georges.

All of the illustrations were great. There were speech bubbles sprinkled in with real quotes.

I don't know much about history, but it seemed to hit all the important points of the war: The Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, The Battle of Lexington, Bunker Hill, etc.

My only gripe was this (the rest of the book was great): It made it seem like the Americans were getting mad for little reason when the British only had one small tea tax. Yes, it said we were mad because we had taxation without representation, but the British were being very reasonable and they gave us lots of things and deserved some taxes. Why not get mad after the British STOP being reasonable?

I think this would be an ideal book to buy and use for homeschooling to teach the American Revolution. It is long enough to use for many days I should think, and there seem to be logical stopping places. 64 pages may not seem like much, but there is a lot of information. It was easy to read. Plus, it's made by National Geographic, so you know it's good.

If you want to paint the American Revolution in a "clearly we were way more right and the British were horrible Tyrants" kind of way, then this is probably not the book for you, otherwise, definitely buy it.
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