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1919 The Year That Changed America

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  45 reviews
A National Book Award finalist

1919 was a world-shaking year. America was recovering from World War I and black soldiers returned to racism so violent that that summer would become known as the Red Summer. The suffrage movement had a long-fought win when women gained the right to vote. Laborers took to the streets to protest working conditions; nationalistic fervor led to a
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 8th 2019 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
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There's a lot to like here. Sandler does a great job highlighting some really huge social and political and cultural shifts that happened in 1919, and he relates them to where we are right now in America.

However, it's hard not to wonder what makes 1919 any more special than other years where the same kind of book could be developed. Which isn't to say this doesn't have merit, but I never took away the reason behind why 1919 was more pivotal than so many other years, except for the fact it could
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very well written book about the history of 1919. I think that kids will find it very interesting and easy to read. As an adult, I learned some new information. When history is presented in this way, I think it is easier for kids to enjoy it. This book would also be a great resource for history reports.
Brandy Painter
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This is an excellent work of non-fiction that covers all of the major events of 1919. It demonstrates how they are all connected to each other and to the greater movements of the rest of the century. 1919 was like a spark that slowly smoldered until it became an inferno. Sandler does a wonderful job at the connections and the descriptions. His writing is quippy and entertaining while maintaining an informational and educational tone. At the end of each section, a brief connection is
Ms. Yingling
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

While I knew a little about the events of 1919, I hadn't really put them together in the way that this informative book does. Yes, I knew about the Great Molasses Flood thanks to Joan Hiatt Harlow's 2002 Joshua's Song, but I had never tied it in to companies wanting to hoard molasses in order to make as much run as possible before Prohibition! It's good to see coverage of women's suffrage at this particular moment, right before 1920, and in the wake of the war. The Red
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, I now know why it is a National Book Award Finalist. It is a superbly written account of some of the major events that occurred in 1919 that continue to have repercussions to this very day. Sandler focuses on six major events or series of events that changed the country for good. Women's suffrage, Prohibition, The Great Molasses Flood, racist violence, labor union strikes, and communist hysteria all left a mark on the United States, sometimes in good ways, sometimes in ...more
Molly Dettmann
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
A solid informational text about a year that, after reading this, certainly did have a lot happen in it. I thought the writing was well-done and interesting to follow, yet written in a way that would be accessible for its young adult audience. I like that each chapter took a look at each of the events that changed the world. Some had information I already knew about, but a lot still gave some more insight and facts I hadn’t heard. I did hate the placement of the vignettes added to give a closer ...more
Shauna Yusko
This is fantastic! A complete package of everything that is great about YA nonfiction.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads-nf
I can see why this book is nominated for the National Book Award.
Stephanie Bange
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Martin looks at the major news events that occurred in 1919 that have major implications and resonate in the present day: The Great Molasses Flood (oversight of businesses by government and government’s responsibility to our citizens), women’s suffrage (voter suppression today), racism/ racial riots/lynchings/rise of the KKK (continued patterns of social injustice today), rise of communism/The Red Scare I & II (start of the ACLU, anti-immigrant movement, rise of white supremacism today), ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I do not read very many fiction books. I picked this one up because I currently find myself reading through three different book series all set between WWI and WWII. I started to wonder, what was going on 100 years ago? What were American's struggling with? What were they celebrating? What was the political scene like?

This is more of a "coffee table" book than a novel. The information is presented in digestible chunks with many pictures that add to the stories being told. There are even
First of all, I thought it was a good read and an interesting topic. I knew about most of the different events mentioned (including the Great Molasses Disaster). However, it never dawned on me that all of these events happened within one year! I never considered 1919 to be a pivotal year in American history, but I'm thinking differently now.

At times, I forgot that this was a book designed for kids. As a history nerd, I relished all of the well- researched details and the emotions that these
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and very deservingly so. An excellent nonfiction book on the tumultuous year 1919, with six chapters that each focus on one event or topic (plus sidebars on other topics, such as the Black Sox World Series scandal and the first transatlantic airplane flight). After discussing the event, a "100 years later" section shows how things have changed as a result, or, how much things have (sadly) stayed the same, and ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is a difficult one to rate because there are parts of it I really liked. It’s hard to go wrong with the subject because, yeah, what a year. I appreciated the many photos and timelines and connections to current-day events. It’s disconcerting to read how little has changed, in a lot of ways, in 100 years: we continue to struggle with white supremacy, women’s rights, immigrant and minority rights, corporate power, corruption, and misguided efforts to legislate some people’s morality.

Featured in "History Books for Young Readers" on Intellectual Recreation.

1919 The Year that Changed America is a book that you will want to be sure to read in 2019. Martin W. Sandler looks back 100 years to this watershed year in United States history that included fights for suffrage to race riots to strikes for labor rights and more.

Sandler lays the groundwork for each big event by discussing the events leading up to the momentous actions of 1919. At the end of each chapter, Sandler
Julie Overpeck aka Mrs. O's Library
Thank you to the Kid Lit Exchange and the publisher for a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

History enthusiasts will enjoy this book. Author Martin W. Sandler explains how multiple events in the year 1919 changed the course of the United States. Immigration, Prohibition, Women’s Suffrage, the Red Summer, the first Red Scare, labor strikes, and the repeal of Prohibition are all described alongside stories of the Molasses Flood, the Black Sox Scandal, and other interesting stories.
Mrs.Melaugh Melaugh
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Six seminal events that occurred in 1919 are described here by award winning middle grade non-fiction author Martin W. Sandler. Together, they add up to describe a truly remarkable “year that changed America”. The six scenarios are: the Great Molasses Flood, passage of the Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the right to vote, fear of Communism, labor unrest, “Red Summer” attacks on African Americans, and the beginning of Prohibition. Sandler displays his usual knack for choosing captivating ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lovely, large book, illustrated with gorgeous and timely photos, that brings a grand year to life and discusses the sweeping changes that followed some of the events. From the strange start of the Molasses Flood to the rigged world series it covers the events of the year, some of which I knew (Women's Suffrage!) and some of which were sadly new to me -- the Red Summer of race riots. I even tested my history teacher BIL and he only came up with four events.

I do wish the back matter was more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Sandler is a good storyteller, sharing carefully chosen details to draw in his readers as he recounts a formative year in US history. I recommend this book with some caveats. It's very US-centric. For international schools, I would have liked more discussion of what kind of global impact these events had. My other complaint is that I didn't always follow the connections he tries to make between events in 1919 and America today. For example, after the section about labor strikes in 1919, he talks ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: geekery, library
I picked this up on a whim at the library. It was fascinating! A lot of things i hadn't known, including the Great Molasses Flood. I appreciated the way Sandler drew connections between the different events discussed, and also offered historical contexts that situated 1919's events and repercussions in what followed, including a modern context.
I wish more history books I'd read in school had this much social context and perspective. It was well laid out.
My one quibble is with the sort of single
Ms. Mester
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, nonfic
Can see why this was nominated for the YA NBA, but very surprised it won over the others (Pet was my pick). I did learn about some historical events I wasn't familiar with - the molasses flood - and gained some more details on others like Red Summer. I liked the that each chapter had a look how a particular chapter's events still reverberate 100 years later. I liked the theory of selective timelines by theme for each chapter, but in practice it felt too limiting. I was surprised that there ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s, history
A Children's non-fiction book, which is the 2019 Nation Book award winner for Youth Literature, focusing on some of the major occurrences in America in 1919 starting with the Great Molasses Flood in Boston. It then looked at the following broader issues that were happening across the United States: women getting the vote, lynching and violence between blacks and whites (The Red Summer), anarchists and the red scare, various labor strikes, and prohibition. At the end of each chapter there is a ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
National Book Award for Young People's Literature winner 1919 takes a look at that particular year in American history and talks about the extraordinary events: what happened, what were the immediate consequences, and what are the consequences today. It's not an overly long book, but it is thorough in its examination of these historical events and would be as useful as something to dip in and out of as it is a cover-to-cover read. I especially like the section at the end of each chapter called ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned a few things reading this book about 1919. I liked the arrangement of presenting the event, then giving the perspective 100 years later and the timeline at the end of each section. Author included a section for further reading at the end of the book as well as sources and an index. The illustrations were supportive of the text. The insets were perhaps my favorite part, but I do not like the placement of the insets. Often they interrupted the flow of the text, and the topic is not ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
This book was phenomenal. I had no idea I could be interested in the year 1919 until this book. It's so well written that it is really engaging. It covers the Great Molasses Flood which was really fascinating, suffrage for women, civil rights, Communism, strikes, and Prohibition. The author is clearly a pro at organizing and planning out a book like this, and this makes me want to read more of his work. I read this one in two days which is pretty unheard of for me. I carried it everywhere with ...more
Penny Peck
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-ya
Using many b&w photos, sidebars, and a "coffee table" like book design, this nonfiction book for grades 7-12 delves deep into several impactful areas of U.S. history in 1919: the molasses explosion in Boston, Women's Suffrage, Prohibition, anti-Communist activities, racial riots, and labor strikes. The narrative is fairly demanding, and a few times the author concludes a chapter by going off-topic, but it will be very helpful for report writers and for history lovers. There is an index, ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, ya
This was interesting and engaging! I'm still a little surprised at its National Book Award win, but, sure? It does a great job of connecting present-day America back to specific events in 1919 that were landmarks for labor, civil rights, racial justice, etc.

I do wish publishers would stop making nonfiction books aimed at teens so physically large; they're bulky and feel like a textbook, it's hard to convince teens to check them out for pleasure reading. It also could have used more specific
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book well deserved the National Book Award as it covers the diverse politics, policies, issues of this year that influence life today. From women activists fighting for the right to vote, to the Red Scare and civil rights riots themes resound in terms of how we are governed and conduct our lives today. There are lots of "new" names to add to our knowledge of these events as well as information on the founding of organizations like the ACLU. Very readable for even those who say they don't ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I learned so much reading this book. For instance, I had never heard of the Great Molasses Flood. (Reading about it, and the recovery efforts reminded me of the book by Allan W. Eckert A Time of Terror: the Great Dayton Flood, which chronicles river flooding in 1913). This is a really good overview of what was happening in our country at the end of WWI. It includes various timelines related to each basic topic covered and great historical photographs.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, j
This was the third 1919 history book I read this year; if I had to recommend a single one of the three, it would definitely be Eve Ewing's 1919. Sandler's was great for a broader, zoomed-out view of the year as a whole, but never got as in-depth into any of the events covered as I'd have liked. A good jumping off point.
Jeannie Standal
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a preview from NetGalley of this title. The content was very good, but the overall impression of the book as tough to get because the format was completely jumbled. Loved the chapter by chapter organization of events and the influence they had on modern life and society.

Excellent nonfiction best for middle school, and also good for high school.
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Martin W. Sandler has written more than seventy books for children and adults and has written and produced seven television series. He has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has won multiple Emmy Awards. He lives in Massachusetts.