Cover image for The century that was : reflections on the last one hundred years
The century that was : reflections on the last one hundred years
Giblin, James Cross, 1933-2016.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books For Young Readers, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 166 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 27 cm
A collection of essays by well-known authors for young people, reflecting on various aspects of life in twentieth-century America, including politics, the environment, sports, fashion, and civil rights.
Reading Level:
1130 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 9.2 10.0 45215.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 9 13 Quiz: 22630 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.1 .C42 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This lively, provocative, and diverse collection of essays by eleven stellar children's authors explores the "road we've traveled" as Americans in the twentieth century. Each author has written on a subject he or she was eager to explore, resulting in a unique testimony not only to a century, but to the talents and interests of these outstanding writers who have changed the face of twentieth-century children's literature.Russell Freedman launches the collection with a fascinating account of the predictions of two nineteenth-century science-fiction writers, H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, of what was in store for the coming century. A survey of the ups and downs of American politics and presidencies, from Theodore Roosevelt through Bill Clinton, is provided by Milton Meltzer, and Albert Marrin complements this study with a discussion of the long-term effects of World War I on America. In a compelling essay on the conservation movement, Laurence Pringle explores the change in attitudes toward the environment as Americans began to regard it as something to protect rather than exploit. On a slightly different note, Bruce Brooks considers the shifting emphasis in sports, from the "human"-scale amateur athlete to the "superhuman" professional.Jim Murphy discusses the dramatic evolution in transportation that came with the development of the automobile and the airplane. Walter Dean Myers's overview of the civil rights struggle is intriguing fare, as are Penny Colman's observations of the progress American women have made on various fronts, from suffrage to education.Three writers have chosen a more personal approach to their topics. Lois Lowry chronicles the ins and outs of fashion through six generations of women in her family. Eve Bunting reveals the immigration experience in the context of her own Irish-American family. And in comparing her beliefs to those of her conservative Christian father, Katherine Paterson comments on the changing status of religion in America.Illustrated with photographs and prints of the century's milestones, some from the authors' personal collections, this is an important retrospective on a century of great change and promise.

Author Notes

James Cross Giblin leads a double life as author and editor. He was editor-in-chief and publisher of Clarion Books for twenty-two years and continues to serve as a contributing editor at Clarion. Twelve of his titles have been named Notable Children's Books by the American Library Association, and in 1996 he received the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for his body of work

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-12. Eleven of the best writers for young people look at the last century in America, each from a particular viewpoint. Katherine Paterson writes about religion. Walter Dean Myers looks at the changing concept of civil rights. Penny Colman celebrates the great strides that women have made. Some essays are personal: Eve Bunting talks about immigration through her own Irish American experience. Bruce Brooks' discussion of sports expresses his personal fury about the shift from amateur players to professional celebrities. Some writers are more general: Jim Murphy on transportation; Laurence Pringle on the conservation movement. Editor Giblin points out that there's no attempt to be comprehensive (nothing on the movies, for example). The format is spacious, with occasional photographs and prints, and there are brief chapter bibliographies. The individual approaches, both personal and historical, will stimulate young people to look back and also forward to where we're going next. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Giblin (The Mystery of the Mammoth Bones) assembles an impressive collection of children's authors to put into context many of the major accomplishments, setbacks and changes that have occurred over the 20th century. The 11 essays show tremendous range in voice and scope. Walter Dean Myers's essay on the civil rights movement, Penny Colman's piece on emerging roles and rights for women, and Laurence Pringle's discussion of environmental conservation spotlight strong leaders within a larger historical overview and leave readers with a call to action. Katherine Paterson, on the other hand, matches her approach to her subject in a highly personal and beautifully crafted essay on the Protestant faith she and her missionary father shared, and the many developments that impacted the religion through the course of the century. Jim Murphy and Lois Lowry offer lighter fare: Murphy takes an entertaining look at the evolution of cars and planes, while Lowry reflects on the way the women in her family reinvented themselves through clothing and style over the generations. The lasting effects of WWI in "setting the stage for murderous tyrannies" throughout the world and the paranoia it bred at home comes through in Albert Marrin's (Sitting Bull, reviewed below) chilling essay. There is also criticism of where we're going in Bruce Brooks's impassioned look at the professionalization of children in sports. What unites these perspectives are a sharp analysis of history, fine writing and, for the most part, an optimistic sense of progress to lead us into the next 100 years. Ages 10-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-Eleven thought-provoking essays written by well-known children's authors explore the myriad changes that the U.S. saw in the 20th century. Some approaches are personal, such as Lois Lowry's account of women's fashions worn by six generations of her family or Katherine Paterson's comparison of her minister father's conservative Christianity to her own more liberal faith. Others are more general historical pieces, such as Russell Freedman's discussion of Jules Verne's and H. G. Wells's predictions for the century, Albert Marrin's account of the changes that World War I brought to American society, and Jim Murphy's piece on the evolution of transportation. Other selections include Penny Colman's essay on the changing status of women, Walter Dean Myers's overview of the civil rights movement, Milton Meltzer's discourse on American politics, and Laurence Pringle's look at the conservation movement. Eve Bunting weaves an account of her own family's relocation from Northern Ireland to the U.S. in 1958 into a larger discussion of immigration, and Bruce Brooks offers a humorous, somewhat regretful look at the changes in professional sports. The essays range from 9-to-21 pages in length and are accompanied by black-and-white photographs and reproductions and brief author profiles. Five-to-ten suggestions for further reading on each topic are appended. This excellent volume will be appreciated as a browsing book and as a starting point for research.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

James Cross GiblinRussell FreedmanEve BuntingAlbert MarrinJim MurphyBruce BrooksPenny ColmanWalter Dean MyersLois LowryMilton MeltzerKatherine PatersonLaurence Pringle
Introductionp. VII
Looking Back at Looking Forward: Predicting the Twentieth Centuryp. 1
Immigrants Allp. 15
America's First World Warp. 31
A Hundred Years of Wheels and Wingsp. 53
The Century Babies Became Prosp. 70
Great Strides: Women in the Twentieth Centuryp. 79
The Changing Concept of Civil Rights in Americap. 93
Fashioning Ourselvesp. 106
Politics--Not Just for Politiciansp. 115
Trust and Obey: A Personal Look at Twentieth-Century Religionp. 129
Heroes for the Whole Earthp. 149
For Further Readingp. 160
Indexp. 165