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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.
Review by Andy
The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy is an interesting book. Its perspective of the Civil War is different from any other book about the conflict. In most books, you’ll probably find some historian with lots of facts and statistics giving you a bystander’s point of view. The Boys’ War however will put you in the action and still have factual information you expect from a history book. More importantly it shows you the war from the perspective of boys who were involved.
The reads almost like a historical fiction even though it is all true with firsthand accounts from letters, diaries, and other sources. It puts you in the war with boys’ giving the reader a sense of what they observed and felt. I definitely found it much more enjoyable than something like The Tigers Are Burning where you have a historian talking about how Hitler should have done this or that.
The pacing is pretty fast for a non-fiction book and even though it may not most action packed non-fiction book I have read it is pretty high up there. What makes this book a fast read is the same thing that makes this special, you are on the scene and in a point of view that is easy to understand.
Having the point of view from a boy is clever. Considering that this book is targeted at kids and young adults that is good planning. Some of the boys are teens and pre-teens with the youngest as young as twelve. It shows tough living condition these kids had to deal with. We see their struggle with older soldiers, the food they had to eat and of course the fighting.
There are a few things that aren’t so great though. The cover could really use some work. It is very pain and doesn’t seem to fit the events in the book. Also, like one of my writing teachers once said, “I like how when he decided it would be crazy, he made it all the way crazy”, meaning there are points when he should have not done quite as much. For instance the book needs focus less on the small details, like how uniforms would get mixed up. Then again, nothing is perfect.
I personally like reading about the civil war and the assassination of Lincoln, so this book was a good choice for me. It’s a quick read that you could probably finish in a day if you wanted to. It can sometimes be a bit graphic and there is a fair bit of action, but mainly the book is about what daily life was like in the war. You might enjoy it if you like historical fiction and especially if you are a kid.