Russia: Then and Now

Lerner Geography Department, Editor
Lerner Geography Department, Editor Lerner Publishing Group $23.93 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8225-2805-0
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These newest entries in the Then and Now series feature luxuriant, well-chosen photos (a boy with missing front teeth shows the universality of human growth); the topics covered include geography, economics, history and culture. The titles are both up-to-date and comprehensive: readers will certainly gain insights into these locales, but the overall effect here is one of blandness. Stalin is not identified as a dictator, only as a ruler; Jews are mentioned, but not in the important context of anti-Semitism. A politically correct ecological sidebar (e.g., cleaning up the Baltic Sea) is illogically dropped into the middle of each book, and allusions are too often made without context or explanation. In occasional gripping moments readers can sense the series' promise (and these countries' struggles)--as when two million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians formed a hand-to-hand chain for freedom that stretched 400 miles. By attempting too much, the authors have unfortunately weakened their books' inherent drama. A sturdy but disappointing reference work. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)
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