Honors for and Reviews of Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War

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June 2010: VOYA (Voice Of Youth Advocates) names Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War to its Nonfiction Honor List for 2009. (Announcement to appear in August 2010 issue.)

February 2010: The American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) names Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War a nominee for its Excellence in Nonfiction award

January, 2010: The American Library Association (ALA) announces that its Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has named Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War one of the Notable Books for Older Readers.

In the announcement, ALA ALSC wrote: "[b]reaking new historical ground, this book explores how Lincoln came to understand, value, and use “modern” technology to assist the North and help win the Civil War."

January, 2010: The Pittsburgh Post Gazette has selected Mr. Lincoln's High Tech War as one of their Best Children's Books of 2009.

January 2010: Capitol Choices--the DC-area children's books professional group--put Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War on their list of best books for children.

October, 2009: Booklist has named Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War a Top 10 Science & Technology Title.

A Starred Review From Booklist:

Issue: December 15, 2008
Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War.
Allen, Thomas B. (Author) and Allen, Roger MacBride (Author)
Dec 2008. 144 p. National Geographic, hardcover, $18.95. (9781426303791). National Geographic,
library edition, $25.90. (9781426303807). 973.7.

The prologue to this intriguing book points out that although Lincoln grew up using tools and farm implements that his great-great-great-great-grandfather would have recognized, his own generation saw their world irrevocably changed by technological innovations, and he was the only President ever to be granted a patent (for a device to lift boats over shoals). Well researched and clearly written, the book discusses the course of the Civil War in terms of the development of new technology, from the ironclad and the submarine to the rapid-fire, repeating rifle and the use of railroads to carry troops and supplies. When the telegraph carried news from the front and Lincoln’s orders to his generals, the term “commander in chief” became more than an honorary title for the president. The many illustrations include captioned black-and-white reproductions of period prints, paintings, and photos as well as clearly labeled drawings. Sidebars comment on such topics as the mass production of armaments. A lengthy bibliography, a discussion of online resources, and source notes for quotes are appended. Readers whose knowledge of the Civil War comes from historical novels and battle-by-battle historical accounts will gain a fascinating perspective on why the war progressed as it did and how it was ultimately won.
— Carolyn Phelan

A Starred Review from School Library Journal:

Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Ironclads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War. 144p. diags. illus. maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. index. Web sites. CIP. National Geographic. 2008. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-1-4263-0379-1; PLB $25.90. ISBN 978-1-4263-0380-7. LC 2008024546.
Gr 5 Up–This volume examines Lincoln’s lifelong interest in technology and inventions and how he introduced these “new and useful things” to the nation. The 19th century saw transformations in transportation and industry, and many of these innovations were utilized by the North in its victory over the South. Offering an overview of the war, the book presents chapters on topics including Lincoln’s pre-inauguration train trip to Washington in February 1861, the North’s Anaconda Plan for blockading Southern ports, surveillance balloons, the ironclads, new guns and ammunition, and–most importantly–the telegraph and railroads. The lively, well-researched text makes it clear that Lincoln grasped the concept of “total war” and did not hesitate to exploit the latest know-how to ensure victory. Nineteenth-century photos, reproductions, and political cartoons appear throughout, each with an informative caption. Time lines and numerous sidebars treating topics such as the Emancipation Proclamation or Morse code are also included. An outstanding section of online resources sifts out sites of “especially high value.” This book is a vital addition to the Lincoln shelf and an exceptional and novel approach for students investigating the Civil War.
–Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, IL

Excerpt from an Associated Press Round-up of Books about Lincoln

By Leanne Italie
Associated Press

POSTED: 09:02 a.m. EST, Feb 10, 2009

— "Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War" (National Geographic, $18.95, ages 9-12) by Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen.

Father and son historians fascinate with tales of the train, telegraph and evolving rifle as tools of war. What role did hot air balloons play in the Civil War? Which side sent the first ironclad ships into the fray? Photos, line drawings and breakout boxes accompany otherwise heavy text.

From the Washington Post's Book World section, Sunday, February 1, 2009

(excerpt from a round-up of books about Lincoln and Darwin in commemoration of their joint birthday)

MR. LINCOLN'S HIGH-TECH WAR How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Iron-Clads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War
By Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen National Geographic. $18.95 (ages 10 and up)
The only president ever to be granted a patent (for a device to lift boats over shoals), Lincoln pushed for technological advances throughout his presidency Father-and-son coauthors Thomas Allen and Roger Allen present the opportunities for invention during the grim and drawn-out Civil War. "The old [kind of] war banged and jostled against the new war," the Allens write, noting that although the North made use of the telegraph, railroads, breech-loaded repeating rifles and other innovations, the Civil War also encompassed much that seemed ancient, like its battlefield medicine and horse-drawn carriages.

Scripp-Howard News Service, Wednesday, February 11, 2009 (from a round-up of Lincoln books)

-- Father-son author team Thomas Allen and Roger MacBride Allen offer readers a novel take on Lincoln in "Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War" (National Geographic, $18.95). Young readers will be fascinated by this well-written and carefully researched book, which, as the subtitle indicates, explores "How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Ironclads, High-Powered Weapons and More to Win the Civil War." In particular, the authors highlight how Lincoln understood the importance of technology in modern warfare. Copious line drawings and photographs offer even more information. The book concludes with a stellar section of research sources, including a very useful index. (Ages 10 up -- even adults will enjoy reading this book).

From Bookends
A Booklist Blog
Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's book
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 8:44 am

Lynn: When most of us describe Abraham Lincoln, “techie” is not one of the terms that comes to mind. Now, thanks to Thomas and Roger Allen’s absorbing book, I realize that in today’s parlance, Lincoln was an early adapter! Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War (National Geographic, 2009) begins with the startling observation that Lincoln was born into the last generation of Americans who didn’t expect technology ever to change. By the time he was a young man, technology was changing fast and the ever-curious Lincoln was an enthusiast, becoming the only president ever to earn a patent. The authors portray how Lincoln’s use and support of technology played a critical role in the Civil War. Each chapter focuses on a different technology from the railroads that carried soldiers to battle to the hot air balloons used for surveillance. The text is lively, filled with fascinating stories of Lincoln supporting innovation, often over-ruling reluctant generals and skeptical cabinet members. Lincoln loved the telegraph and visited the telegraph office every day to read the reports from the field, often wiring back instructions and orders. It so infuriated General McClellan, that he set up a separate telegraph office and ordered his men to hide the messages from Lincoln. The President then had two telegraph offices to visit and quickly learned to check under the blotter. The book is illustrated with a fascinating array of cartoons, drawings, blueprints and photographs. Extensive inserts discuss other fascinating technological innovations such as the first canned food and photography. In a year of fine new books about Lincoln, the Allens’ truly unique perspective makes this remarkable book stand out from the crowd. I know I’ll never think of Lincoln in the same way and it isn’t hard to picture him today delighting in a blackberry.

Cindy: When Lynn wanted me to read yet another Lincoln book I think I groaned, at least inwardly. Aren’t there any YA biographies about M. C. Escher we could read? (No, there aren’t, and would someone please rectify this?) But, now that I’ve read this innovative take on a man who really is a hero of mine, I’m glad she was persistent. I can’t decide whether to give this book to my history teachers or my science teachers! So many of the inventions we study in the 6th grade scientists and inventors unit are mentioned in this book. The students have to tell how their invention or discovery changed our world and this book does that admirably. I learned a lot myself, although my eyes started to cross during the explanation of various bullets and rifles, but my teen boys who like to read about weaponry will be thrilled. Some things seem obvious from our vantage point. I mean, how could we have built railroads with different widths between the rails so that supply trains had to be unloaded at a state’s border and reloaded onto a different train that was fitted to the tracks in the new state???? A standard size seems rational now, although the folks who build my cell phones with different size charger fittings each time I upgrade certainly never learned the lesson. The history is not to be forgotten, though–the book succinctly summarizes major events of the war, tied with the technology developments. If my high school history teachers had used books like this one and Russell Freedman’s, and Albert Marrin’s and Jim Murphy’s, my history knowledge would be much improved over the text book information I forgot long ago. Those who want to know more can visit the book’s website where they can find chapter-by-chapter additional information with weblinks and even a page devoted to “Updates, Errata and Corrections” proving that research is never “done.”

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