From the explorations of Columbus to the second Bush administration, this historical encyclopedia provides middle school students with a substantial introduction to key issues in American history. Thus, the 689 essays explore the early settlement of North America, the treatment of Native Americans, the issues that separated the colonies from Britain, political divisions in the new republic, territorial expansion and the developing power of the United States in the twentieth century. Conflicts are reflected in articles on military campaigns and wars as well strikes, protests and social movements. Other entries explain political and economic crises. Biographical entries include explorers, pioneers, soldiers, scientists, politicians, presidents, writers, inventors, reformer, musicians and many others who have contributed to the making of America. Therefore, the coverage features Benjamin Franklin andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson along with Emily Dickinson, Miles Davis and Elvis Presley. Numerous sidebars highlight selected primary sources or events. Although designed for middle school students, the depth and quality of the writing in most articles would serve students through high school. Unfortunately, the necessary aids for extending research are not in place. While there are frequent cross-references to related articles, there are no suggestions for further reading in each entry. The general bibliography, entitled “Where to Learn More,” is simply a 20-page list of books and Web sites without any subject arrangement. For a historical encyclopedia, the lack of a timeline or chronology is a serious flaw. A subject outline of entries also might have been helpful. On the other hand, more than 450 illustrations support the text well and the index is repeated in each volume. Despite some flaws, this encyclopedia’s saving grace is the well-written articles that challenge young readers to think critically about their history.