Monday, October 12, 2009

Review in a Few: Washington at Valley Forge by Russell Freedman

As temperatures dropped and snow began to fall, General Washington's ragtag army stumbled and crawled into their winter "refuge" in the woods of Valley Forge, PA, lacking shoes and coats. Upon arrival, they had to chop down trees to build shelter and vie for inadequate supplies of food, water, and medical attention. The revolution seemed almost a hopeless cause, as approximately 20 miles to the southwest, the British army had settled in for a long winter of plenty in Philadelphia. Despite this, the winter of 1777-78 would be a turning point in the American Revolution, as support emerged in the form of French military training and replenishment of much-needed supplies.

Thoroughly researched and annotated, with accounts pulled from soldier diaries and other records, Freedman's account of the winter spent at Valley Forge is a gripping tale of survival and triumph. Freedman's narrative voice and full-color reproductions of period artwork serve to draw the reader in from the start. By the second or third chapter, however, the narrative of desperation feels a bit repetitive and circular as Freedman seeks to reinforce the dire circumstances. Once underway, however, the voices of soldiers emerge and serve to unfold an inspiring tale of persistence and dedication. Those voices, and the inclusion of short anecdotal narratives on personalities, such as Barron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben are what really make this title stand out.

by Russell Freedman
Holiday House
Release Date: October 15, 2008
Recommended for: upper elementary and middle school
Reviewed from published edition, checked out from library

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  1. Just letting you know that I'd love to link to your blog and would love if you'd link to mine.


  2. MLE - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you come back soon and best of luck in your blog and library adventures!