Friday, April 19, 2019

Old Greek Stories, by James Baldwin (1895)


This isn’t the James Baldwin of the early to late 20th century, raised in Harlem, New York, social critic and author of several books and plays, three of which I’ve read: The Fire Next Time, Giovanni’s Room, and Another Country. Instead, this James Baldwin was born in 1841 in Indiana and became a school superintendent at age 24. This James Baldwin died a year and a half after the Harlem James Baldwin was born. This James Baldwin, the school superintendent, wrote and edited so many school text books that, at one point, over half of the school books in use in the U.S. had been either edited or written by him. He wrote primarily for younger students, roughly 50 books, including, of course, this one.

While Old Greek Stories is well written, since it’s geared toward the young adult reader, its telling lacks the more sophisticated style and diction found in the works of Edith Hamilton and Bulfinch. Assuming kids read anymore (though I suspect video games have replaced that pastime), I highly recommend this book for that age group. Five out of five stars. PG

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