by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett

Abrams, $24.95, 176 pages

If someone were to combine a sixth grade history book with an adventure story from the 1880’s, Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention would be the result. The book chronicles the life of Frank Reade and Frank Jr., fictional inventors, and their exploits in technology during the turn of the 20th century. From the early development of warships for the U.S. to creating steam-powered helicopters years before anyone else conceived of the idea.

From the very first page, this book astounds readers with the visuals and layout. Authors Guinan and Bennett have painstakingly recreated and collected hundreds of images from the original Frank Reade novels, and supplemented them with images from the same period. The images alone tell a phenomenal story, not just of Frank Reade, but of the history of the United States.

Even without the pictures, Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention would tell an incredible story. The authors create believable history of two beloved characters from America’s forgotten past.  By combining actual excerpts from Frank Reade stories from a hundred years ago, and historical biographies and events, every page reveals a new piece of interesting history, whether about the Reade family or America. Although this book felt slightly encyclopedic, the fun combination of Americana and American history, and painstakingly collected, Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention  is both highly entertaining and educational.

Andrew Keyser