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The First Americans (A History of US, Book 1) Paperback – December 30, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A big breath of fresh air and the best possible news for the youngsters who get to read them." -- David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of John Adams

"An incredible look at who we were when this country began." -- Dr. Sonya Friedman, CNN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Climb into your time-and-space capsule-and hang on tight! Trek across Beringia with the hunter-gatherers. Hunt seals with the Inuit; harvest corn on a cliff-top mesa; hunt the mighty buffalo. Sail with Leif Eriksson and Christopher Columbus. Stand with the conquistadors at the gates of a splendid Aztec city. The world of the First Americans in about to change forever. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195077466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195077469
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.4 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


I started my career as an author with a ten-volume U.S. history: A History of US, published by Oxford University Press in 1993, and now in a third updated printing. I had no idea the history would end up in ten books, or that it would be so much fun to write.
A History of US has been awarded a bunch of prizes. David McCullough commented, ". . .the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never crossed her mind." In testimony before the Senate Education Committee he called the series "superb." People Magazine described me as "the J.K. Rowling of the history world." (Umm, that would be nice. But the books have sold 5 million copies.)
Mine are narrative history books that attempt to set literary standards. I mean for them to be exciting to read. They're meant for young readers, and their teachers and parents, or for anyone without a deep background in U.S. history. These are books that can be found in bookstores, on Amazon, and in schools. Oxford and Hopkins have done teaching materials for those who want to use the books in academic study.
That series was followed by: Freedom: A History of US (published in 2003), the companion to a 16-part PBS series of the same name that was narrated by Katie Couric, with voices by a host of Hollywood figures, from Tom Hanks to Robin Williams. The videos are available to schools from PBS. And the book spawned a terrific website: (www.pbs.org/wnet/historyofus).

I'm now writing The Story of Science. The first three books are jointly published by Smithsonian Books and the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). They focus on the quest to understand the universe--from ancient Greece to today's expanding universe. The first volume is Aristotle Leads the Way; the second, Newton at the Center; the third book, Einstein Adds A New Dimension, attempts to explain quantum theory and relativity with black holes and space travel too. Writing in the New York Times, Natalie Angier called the books, "richly informative." Alan Alda raved. These books have won prizes too. Science writer Timothy Ferris said he wished he had them when he was a boy. Educators at Johns Hopkins and NSTA have developing coordinated teaching materials for classroom use (available from NSTA or Amazon).

I'm currently working on two books that put biology into a narrative framework.

Before I began writing books, I was an associate editor, editorial writer, and business writer for The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk's morning paper) and a general reporter and photographer on the staff of The Ledger-Star (Norfolk's afternoon paper. I did a whole lot of freelance writing while raising three kids. And I was an assistant editor of World News, a foreign news service at McGraw-Hill.

Writing and teaching seem to be two faces of the same need to explain things. Which may explain why I've had dual careers--as writer and teacher.

I've taught elementary school (Omaha, NE), high school English (Virginia Beach, VA), special education in a middle school (Syracuse, NY), and English composition and American literature at a community college (Virginia Beach). I initiated and taught a writing course for high school teachers of English through the University of Virginia.

I do a lot of speaking, especially to education groups. For three years I worked with a group of history teachers in Los Angeles under a TAH (Teaching American History) grant. I've spent some of my time in an inner-city school where most of the students speak Spanish at home and reading English doesn't come easily. I'll be speaking at Teachers College, Columbia in the fall of 2009 where reading guru, Lucy Calkins, has called my books the "gold standard" in the field.

As to my schooling: I earned a B.A. from Smith College after high school in Rutland, Vermont. Then I received a M.Ed. and an honorary doctorate from Goucher College. Smith gave me the Smith Medal (2000); the Matrix Foundation, the Edith Workman Award (2003); I've taken graduate courses in journalism and in geography at New York University, child psychology at Johns Hopkins, and courses in American history and science at Brown, Harvard, Cornell, and Cambridge University. My website is: joyhakim.com.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
A History of US is basically an attempt to write a juvenile history of the United States that will speak to a generation of young readers who get most of their information from computers and the Internet. That means Joy Hakim offers up lots of information with lots of illustrations, but it also means been very much aware of the mind set of her readers. When Hakim describes the scope "The First Americans: Prehistory-1600" we get a clear sense of this perspective: "This book begins in the Ice Age with some people who hiked and canoed from Asia to a New Land and, thousands of years later, got called Indians by Christopher Columbus, who didn't know where he was." This first volume begins with the first human beings crossing the land mass that once connected Asia and North America and ends with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the event that signaled the beginning of the end of Spain's empire in the New World and the start of English colonization of the land that would become the United States.
The volume is basically divided into two main sections. After establishing the value of studying history, Hakim looks at how human beings crossed Beringia to a new continent and how these first Americans became Indians. The first section looks examines the Indians on a regional basis, from the Eskimos of the far north to the Cliff Dwellers of the southwest, as well as from the people of the Northwest coast and the Plains Indians to the Mound Builders and People of the Long House in the East. Chapter 13 is a transitional section that covers how the Vikings came to the New World. The rest of the book is devoted to the European voyagers of exploration to the Americans and the early colonization efforts of the Spanish and French.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Keith Cumpston on July 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I thought my 4-year-old was only half listening as I read "The First Americans" to her sister (age 6). But the other evening at story time, her face lit up and she begged for "history"! I can give it no higher praise.
This volume covers the first 12,000 years--give or take a few millennia--of human life on our continent. Hakim strikes a good balance between outlining the broad sweep of the period, and focusing in on interesting stories, people, and trivia ("fun facts" in my girls' lingo). She doesn't gloss over difficult subjects, such as the massacre of the Aztecs by the Spaniards under Cortés. But she relates these events with balance and sympathy, helping her young readers to understand them from different points of view (in this case the Aztecs; their neighbors who were victims of cruel Aztec rituals; and the Spaniards who wanted Aztec gold, but also were abhorred by Aztec viciousness towards their neighbors). What's more, Hakim openly invites them to think about and even reject her own judgements.
She has sparked many good conversations in our household. For instance, she used the example of Cortés to illustrate some tough ethical questions that philosophers debate to this day. I talked about these questions with my daughters, and helped them to express and refine their own thoughts. Then I invited them to think up some other tough questions. My younger one took the cake with "what is 'is'?". She had offered it in jest, but to her surprise I pulled out "Being and Time", one of several big books on my shelf devoted to that very question. She was amused, but quite pleased.
No doubt you will find something to disagree with in this, as in any good history. When that happens, do what the author suggests: use it as an opportunity to debate her conclusions with your kids, and sharpen their critical skills. For the rest of it, enjoy a great story well-told. I can hardly imagine a better history for this age group.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
A History of US is basically an attempt to write a juvenile history of the United States that will speak to a generation of young readers who get most of their information from computers and the Internet. That means Joy Hakim offers up lots of information with lots of illustrations, but it also means been very much aware of the mind set of her readers. When Hakim describes the scope "The First Americans: Prehistory-1600" we get a clear sense of this perspective: "This book begins in the Ice Age with some people who hiked and canoed from Asia to a New Land and, thousands of years later, got called Indians by Christopher Columbus, who didn't know where he was." This first volume begins with the first human beings crossing the land mass that once connected Asia and North America and ends with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the event that signaled the beginning of the end of Spain's empire in the New World and the start of English colonization of the land that would become the United States.
The volume is basically divided into two main sections. After establishing the value of studying history, Hakim looks at how human beings crossed Beringia to a new continent and how these first Americans became Indians. The first section looks examines the Indians on a regional basis, from the Eskimos of the far north to the Cliff Dwellers of the southwest, as well as from the people of the Northwest coast and the Plains Indians to the Mound Builders and People of the Long House in the East. Chapter 13 is a transitional section that covers how the Vikings came to the New World. The rest of the book is devoted to the European voyagers of exploration to the Americans and the early colonization efforts of the Spanish and French.
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