Picks and Pans Review: The Timetables of American History

updated 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/01/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

Edited by Laurence Urdang

In 1577 Martin Frobisher explored the eastern passages to Hudson and Baffin Bays on his second voyage to the Arctic. Elsewhere that year, French Catholics persuaded Henry III to repeal the Edict of Beaulieu, El Greco painted a high altar-piece in Spain, and the Chronicles of Raphael Holinshed, which Shakespeare used in writing many of his historical dramas, was published. In science, Tycho Brahe proved that the orbits of comets lie beyond the moon. This marvelous book starts with the year 1000, when Leif Ericson landed on the coast of North America, and continues through 1980. Charts for each year describe what happened in America and elsewhere, in history and politics, the arts, science and technology by showing America's history alongside major events taking place all over the world. Take 1925. Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman governor in the U.S.; Norway's capital, Christiania, was renamed Oslo; F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby, acoustic tiles for soundproofing were invented; Zworykin patented color television, and the first traffic lights were installed in London. Urdang is a lexicographer who also worked on the earlier Timetables of the world. Henry Steele Commager says in his introduction that this history "is designed to make the connections, to provide the meanings and, by implication, to illuminate the significance of facts which are otherwise lifeless." It does all that—thanks in part to a comprehensive index. It is a book that is fun to get lost in, too. (Simon & Schuster, $24.95)

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