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History made interesting for young readers—This Country of Ours by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall provides a simple and easy to comprehend way of looking at the history of the United States. Arranged chronologically in seven long chapters, it presents events in a story form, making them memorable and very different from other formats. One of the challenges that writers of history face is about fleshing out the characters and making the bland repetition of dates and dynasties seem relevant to modern day readers. Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall was a British writer who wrote several children's books. Her most famous work is Our Island Story, a book of British history, which was considered to be the definitive children's history of Britain for more than half a century. However, some of Marshall's books may be found to be historically inaccurate, racially biased and often rely on mythology, legend and even Shakespeare as the source of material. This Country of Ours was published in the UK in 1917 and later was also reissued as The Story of the United States in 1919. It begins with a brief account of the Vikings and how they were the people who really discovered America, before the advent of Columbus. The story of Columbus and his famous expedition are thrillingly recounted along with stories of the English and French explorers who also sailed to the New World. New England, the Middle and Southern Colonies, the American War of Independence, the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, the abolition of Slavery and finally the coming of World War I where the book ends make up the rest of the story. Apart from children, adults will also find it interesting to skim through as many of us have forgotten the details of our history lessons learned in school. Another important aspect is that This Country of Ours was written at a time when it was still fashionable to be patriotic! Today, we are so accustomed to having our great leaders' lives ripped open to public scrutiny and very few of them have survived the onslaught of scandal and the loss of personal reputation. This Country of Ours takes us back to a more innocent era when the great figures of history were still role models for children to be emulated. As a general overview of American History, This Country of Ours is indeed a good book to read.
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