My sister asked me what books I had managed to read over winter break and I was proud to rattle off at least six titles. It surprised me that the title I went to town explaining was The Civil War, the first book in the Profiles series. This colorful nonfiction series with photos and illustrations takes six people from a particular part of U.S. history and gives 10-15 page biographies on them. There is more in-depth detail pertaining to the specific event, in this case—The Civil War—the individuals were all connected with. The end of the book contains an index and websites for further studies. The figures profiled in The Civil War are Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, George McClellan, Robert E. Lee, Clara Barton, and Matthew Brady.
I will readily admit I’m not the best when it comes to history (but, a lot better than I used to be). My sister made a point the other day when she asked my mom and me if we knew anything about history that didn’t have to do with the Jews and the Holocaust. That’s why I like reading children’s books about certain periods of history—the majority of authors know how to make it intriguing enough to absorb.
I knew some things about Abraham Lincoln and Matthew Brady since I studied some photography in college. I did like the little facts that I learned about the rest of the figures. For instance, I didn’t know that Robert E. Lee was originally asked to lead the Union army, but he felt great loyalty to his state of birth, Virginia, and decided to serve the Confederate army (and later, people would want him tried as a traitor). I also can’t believe how many generals Lincoln went through during the Civil War; McClellan was just one of several.
An easy to swallow version of the war is explained, too. The smart thing about this novel is that it takes prior information from the beginning of the novel and intertwines with each individual’s profile, making for a deeper connection. At the end, there are two pages that give cause and effect relationships for the actions taken by each figure and how they affected the Civil War and each other.
I will be looking for the others in this series to read.
Rosenberg, A. (2011). The Civil War. New York, NY: Scholastic.