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The boys' war : Confederate and Union soldiers talk about the Civil War /

Includes diary entries, personal letters, and archival photographs to describe the experiences of boys, sixteen years old or younger, who fought in the Civil War. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Clarion Books, 1990
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First-hand accounts that include diary entries and personal letters describe the experiences of boys, sixteen years old or younger, who fought in the Civil War.


The War Begins
1"So I Became a Soldier"p. 5
2Marching Off to Warp. 15
3"What a Foolish Boy"p. 27
4Drumbeats and Bulletsp. 39
5A Long and Hungry Warp. 45
6Home Sweet Homep. 55
7Changesp. 67
8Prison Bars and the Surgeon's Sawp. 77
9"We're Going Home"p. 91
Afterwordp. 99
Acknowledgments and Sourcesp. 101
Select Bibliographyp. 103
Indexp. 107

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 5-12. Similar in design to Freedman's photo biography Lincoln [BKL O 15 90], with the same high-quality paper and spacious type, this focuses not on the great movers and shakers of the Civil War, but on the thousands of soldiers, Confederate and Union, who were underage. Murphy draws on letters, diaries, memoirs, and archival photographs, effectively combining oral history and photo-essay. His general account of the war is interwoven with graphic quotes from boy soldiers and drummers about what they saw and felt. Mostly uneducated farm boys away from home for the first time, they speak with directness (Murphy preserves their original spelling and idiom), whether about the lure of adventure, the horrors of battle, the monotony of drill, or their longing for home. They don't talk of slavery; in fact, there don't seem to be any blacks in the book. There's a select bibliography, but some notes on sources would have been useful (for example, what's Murphy's authority for the estimated number of boys who fought?). Except for his overuse of the exclamation point, Murphy's style is nonhistrionic; he allows the drama to come from the boys' words and from the sepia pictures, which evoke the stills in the recent PBS series on the war and are sure to lure browsers of all ages. ~--Hazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Readers of Russell Freedman's Newbery-winning Lincoln: A Photobiography , viewers of the recent PBS Civil War documentary series and even Nintendo-addicted preteens will find themselves immediately caught up in this dramatic and at times tragic book. Murphy's exemplary narrative history of the Civil War focuses on the contribution of boys--some as young as nine, many not yet teens. He skillfully interweaves excerpts from the diaries and letters of countless young men who, either seeking escape from the drudgery of farm work or embracing fantasies of glory, participated in America's most brutal and bloody war. Handsomely produced, the book does not shrink from presenting the stark images of youngsters killed or mutilated in battle. The extensive use of contemporary archival photos reinforces the power of the understated text. Ages 9-14. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-- Making extensive use of the actual words--culled from diaries, journals, memoirs, and letters--of boys who served in the Union and Confederate armies as fighting soldiers as well as drummers, buglers, and telegraphers, Murphy describes the beginnings of the Civil War and goes on to delineate the military role of the underage soldiers and their life in the camps and field bivouacs. Also included is a description of the boys' return home and the effects upon them of their wartime experiences. Boys 16 years and younger, Murphy states, made up perhaps as much as 10-20 percent of the total number of soldiers who served in the Civil War. Little did these boys realize that they would become like young Pvt. Henry Graves, who was able to `` `look on the carcass of a man with pretty much such feeling as I would do were it a horse or hog.' '' Private Henry and his contemporaries were direct and simple in their observations and possessed, says Murphy, ``an eye for everyday details.'' Their accounts bring to life, as no other versions can, the Civil War and all of its glories and horrors. An excellent selection of more than 45 sepia-toned contemporary photographs augment the text of this informative, moving work. --David A. Lindsey, Lakewood Junior/Senior High School, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Jim Murphy's nonfiction books have received numerous awards, among them the Sibert Medal, three Orbis Pictus awards, the Margaret A. Edwards award, and two Newbery Honors. Jim also was a finalist for the National Book Award. Born and raised in New Jersey, Jim lives in Maplewood, NJ, with his family.