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George Washington's World Paperback – April 10, 1997
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8?George Washington's World was first published more than 50 years ago. This expanded edition by Genevieve Foster's daughter incorporates new material, especially in the areas of women's history, African-American history, and Native American history. The purpose of the book is to present a slice of life, or picture of what the world was like during Washington's lifetime. As such, its chapters cover major periods of his life, such as when he was a boy, a soldier, a farmer, a commander, a common citizen, and president. The writing style is engaging, and the narrative, which contains unattributed dialogue, reads more like fiction than a history text. The presentation is enhanced by a generous number of pen-and-ink drawings.?Marilyn Heath, Greenwood High School,
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
"Nothing is more critical, I believe, than that children growing up in these critical explosive days should be given an understanding of American history as a part of the history of the world. Every year this grows more urgent, as increasingly rapid communication integrates world events more closely and the impact of foreign affairs on our own lives becomes more serious and immediate." Genevieve Foster wrote this nearly fifty years ago. It resonates with perhaps more truth today. As a result of this clarion call we have sold many of her enduring "World" titles because of the timeless nature of her books. Her writing style is clear, concise and fluid with her greatest strength as a storyteller being her ability to bring her readers right into the minds and times of her characters.
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First, I have to say that the author does an awesome job of pulling in the children and making history interesting. I LOVE that! I just wish some of the subject matter wasn't so "inaccurate". So if you have an issue with any of the below, then avoid or plan to talk over quite a bit with your children. But if none of it bothers you, go ahead and order and you will be very pleased!
Frederick "The Great" was the first instance of frustration for me. They portray this greedy warmonger as almost an idol to be looked up to; even though he was basically a pre-cursor of Hitler with his drive to conquer the world (thankfully not with Hitler's anti-Semitic leaning). Same with Napoleon. But what was frustrating even more was the fact that they portrayed Frederick's rivals very negatively; basically the author had chosen to elevate Frederick and so the very solidly Catholic Prussian Empress Maria Theresa is portrayed very negatively in spite of the fact that she was simply defending her country which Frederick was trying to steal from her! For those of you who are not aware, she was a solid Catholic figure and was very morally upright (one of the few very solid Catholic's in the history of the world's elite!); so it's particularly frustrating to see her portrayed this way.
The second instance of frustration (which is a huge part of the 2nd half of the book) was the positive portrayal of Voltaire and the French Revolution. I am all for freedom; but comparing the French Revolution with the American Revolution is a huge disservice to the Americans! The Americans were striving for all that was good and they did it in such a way that was just (with perhaps a few individuals that went off the moral arrow). The French Revolution was a completely anti-religious movement (hugely pushed to start with by Voltaire, who stressed that all priests should be murdered, etc...) that was more of a rebellion against authority and tradition. And although I believe strongly in freedom for all, to get your freedom by doing unjust things and murdering thousands by guillotine for their political beliefs is quite another story. The French Revolution is portrayed very positively until the end when all the massacres are taking place. There is no mention of Marie's son basically rotting in prison at the tender age of 10. Marie Antoinette is portrayed as a frivolous little girl the entire time who has her heads in the clouds (perhaps an accurate picture of the 12 year old who got married, but not accurate of her after having children in her 20's and 30's); of course there is no mention of the unjust trial against her; just that she was executed. Her husband, a simple but generally good man, is portrayed as a dolt. What was especially frustrating is the little blips of positive quotes by some famous Americans who seem to be "for" the French Revolution.
Now I don't mind this type of history in the older grades because they can logically decipher fact from fiction, but for my daughter's first portrayal of some of these characters? I ultimately got frustrated with having to talk over every little bit with her and decided to skip the second half of the book. My comments on the issues in the book are just a SMALL EXAMPLE OF WHAT IS WRONG in the book.
Hopefully this will alert fellow Amazon-ers to some potential issues. If you don't have issues with any of the above because you have something solid to counteract some of the inaccuracies, then you will probably love this book for it's pull towards children. My daughter absolutely loved reading history when reading this book, so that is a huge plus. For all others, avoid like the plague!
The book was ruthlessly scrubbed when they prepared the new edition. While Genevieve Foster did write in the language of her time (she says "negro" for "black man" and sometimes "savage" for "native"), the new editors went far further than replacing these words with acceptable terms. They removed most criticisms of the behavior of non-Europeans, even where historical evidence indicates these criticisms were just. They then added many remarks about the injustices committed by Europeans and Americans towards other peoples. While some of the injustices mentioned were obvious and lamentable, others were dubious. In addition, the editors cut out much positive content about the spread of liberty, the Anglo-American alliance, Christianity, and the intent of our founders. At the end of the section on "The Declaration of Independence", they removed an inspiring patriotic passage and closed the section instead with a page-long discussion of the problem of slavery. In no way is this subject irrelevant, but it could easily have been broached somewhere else. Several lovely descriptions of Washington's character and of life at the time had also been excluded or rewritten, thereby making the book far less "living". If you have any choice between the old and new versions, definitely get the old. It is simply not worth buying an adapted version for the sake of avoiding a few irritating old prejudices. The modern edition is even more prejudiced, albeit politically. --A Homeschool Student