Educational Reviews 3 in 1

Science Class You Wish You Had…: The Seven Greatest Scientific Discoveries in History and the People Who Made Them


Becoming educated is nothing less than the exploration of our world and our place within it. During our quest, many of us are convinced not to enter into the depths of major scientific experiments.  science eduWe’re thwarted by the idea we must all be able to replicate the mathematics involved. This book puts that idea to rest. “Scientific knowledge and discoveries are much too interesting and profound to be left only to scientists.”  Seven of the most important scientific discoveries are showcased:  Gravity, Atomic Structure, Relativity, the Big Bang, Cells and Genetics, DNA Structure and Natural Selection.  Each major topic is placed in historical context, giving the reader a sense of connection not only to the scientists involved, but to the impact on society by each new discovery.  Did you know that the father of modern chemistry lost his head during the Reign of Terror, for being a former tax collector? For many of us schooled individuals, this book will show you what science class could have been. For all of the unschoolers out there, this is just another great resource to use in the quest to explore and understand our world.

How We Crossed The West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark


Published by National Geographic this book is a wonderful introduction to the story of the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Ms. Schanzer takes the actual words of the participants to form the basis of the book. Diary entries, notes from letters and other journals are placed in chronological order and annotated to show the speaker. Children are able to follow the daily adventures of the exploration party in the words of Lewis and Clark themselves. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. Dept and meaning is added to each entry by the accompanying artwork. Ms Schanzer states that she chose the “quaint painting style of American Folk Artists of the period as a fiting accompaniment to the explorers picturesque writing style.” The book is aimed at the 6-12 year old, but all learners should enjoy this book. I know I did.


The Killer Angels


Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and often referred to as “the classic novel of the Civil War”, this is a riveting re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg. Shaara is a lyrical writer with a superb sense of atmosphere and context. His characters cease to be historical figures and become living, breathing and dying men caught in a moment of transcendent importance for the nation.

No book about the Civil War, fiction or non-fiction, has ever moved me as this book does. After discovering it more than a decade ago, I continue to reread it faithfully every year. The movie made from it, “Gettysburg”, is well worth watching but pales in comparison to the novel itself which truly is not to be missed.

A few of the other wonderful books about the Civil War:

Since his father’s untimely death, Jeff Shaara has assumed his mantle, authoring two outstanding novels about the Civil War: “Gods and Generals”, and “The Last Full Measure”.

For a broad overview of the war, Shelby Foote’s magnificent three-volume masterwork, “The Civil War” is the best I’ve ever found.

And for something a bit different, Harry Turtledove, much appreciated by fans of alternate history, has a wonderful novel, “The Guns for the South” that gives an excellent sense of both the character of General Lee and the small, capricious events upon which the outcome of the war hinged.