cover image Making a Difference: The Story of an American Family

Making a Difference: The Story of an American Family

Margaret Hodges. Scribner Book Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-18979-6

This biography of a family traces the lives of six remarkable people who each carved a niche in the world and left an indelible mark in U.S. history during the first half of this century. Poor yet high-spirited, lovers of both literature and nature, the Sherwoods of Cornwall, N.Y. were more concerned with doing good than making good and were rewarded internally rather than with monetary success. As Hodges states: ``There was in them what Americans like to think of as the essential American character, the will to make a difference.'' The story begins with Mary, the matriarch of the family, and ends by recounting the life of Sidney, the youngest child. Throughout the book, all characters accrue an impressive list of accomplishments in such various realms as women's rights, education, medicine, psychology, writing and politics. Equally impressive is the list of family friends, among them Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony. Hodges chooses not to embellish characterizations, but reveals each family member's personality through journal entries, letters and the observations of acquaintances. While some readers may find this objective approach tedious, others will recognize and appreciate the tremendous amount of research that went into this, as well as Hodges's dedication to historical fact, her eye for detail and interest in truth. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)