In this small 133-page book, Jace Bower manages to condense U.S. History down to the most critical points. To do so, he writes in a concise style that often reads like bullet points. Nevertheless, Bower does make connections, showing how events are related to one another. Even with the concise language, Bower occasionally makes it a point to convey a providential view of history—that God guides events.
The high points in this book lean toward wars and conflicts. Coverage of other topics is limited and brief. For example, only two pages are devoted to the Industrial Revolution and technological advances; three paragraphs cover women’s suffrage, and two paragraphs sum up the Great Depression.
There are occasional boxes with a “Cool Facts” piece of information or a “Thinking More About It” question. Cool Facts are exactly that: extra information that’s intriguing. The Thinking More About It questions show up one at a time wherever Bower thought the material raised a question worth further investigation or discussion. For example, after he talks about the secession of the southern states at the beginning of the Civil War, he asks, “Do you think the South justified in seceding?” (p. 67). Some of the questions will likely require students to do additional research before they can answer intelligently.
It seems to me that this American history might be used in a few different ways. High school students who lack the time for a complete U.S. History course but need to know the highlights can probably get through this book within a week. Another option might be to use it as a spine book along with a selection of biographies, historical novels, or other books that focus on limited aspects of this historical period in America. The questions might make excellent essay writing topics to round out the course.