We've come to expect quality nonfiction from Newbery Medal winner Russell Freedman, but he manages to exceed our expectations with his eloquent and gripping account of the brutal winter George Washington and his bedraggled army spent at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Students who claim history is dull will pay full attention to the descriptions of the conditions the Continental army faced when they arrived, 11,000 strong, to "this wooded wilderness," as one officer called it. While the British army was comfortably ensconced in the American capital of Philadelphia, the Continentals, camped 20 miles away, had no clothing to speak of, no boots, no bedding, no food, and no money. At first, they slept in makeshift tents, in spite of the snow and freezing temperatures. Washington was reluctant to complain, since he didn’t want the British officers to become aware of his army’s dire straits and take advantage of them. In Congress, naysayers tried to undermine him and remove him from command. Quotes from a wide range of primary sources, culled from books, diaries, and letters make the story seem even more immediate, and you'll stop to examine and admire the ample, well-chosen, handsome sepia-toned and full color pictures, paintings, and maps. Readers get a portrait of Washington that is so fully fleshed, he leaves us breathless. It’s inspiring to read about him as a leader at Valley Forge, and easy to understand why he is beloved still today.
Reviewed by : JF.
Themes : BIOGRAPHY. U.S. HISTORY. PRESIDENTS.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- Another stunning work from the nonfiction virtuoso. In a gripping, gritty account of the months that General Washington and his troops spent camped at Valley Forge, Freedman deftly brings to life this storied, nearly mythic period of the Revolutionary War.
School Library Journal
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