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Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 2000

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (September 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440228387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440228387
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (215 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In spare, almost biblical prose, Gary Paulsen writes of the horrors of combat in a Civil War novella that puts a powerful, more contemporary spin on Stephen Crane's classic The Red Badge of Courage. Based on the life of a real boy, it tells the story of Charley Goddard, who lies his way into the Union Army at the age of 15. Charley has never been anyplace beyond Winona, Minnesota, and thinks war would be a great adventure. And it is--at first--as his regiment marches off through cheering crowds and pretty, flag-waving girls. But then comes the battle. Charley screams, "Make it stop now!" disbelieving that anything so horrible could be real. Paulsen is unsparing in the details of what actually happens on the battlefield: the living men suddenly blown into pieces, the agony and fear, the noise and terror, the stinking corpses. After many battles, Charley is wounded and sent home an old man before he is 20, his will to live destroyed by combat fatigue--leaving him with a "soldier's heart." Paulsen has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the ALAN Award, and several Newbery Honor awards for previous work, but this superb, small masterpiece transcends any of his earlier titles in its remarkable, memorable intensity and power. (Ages 12 to 15) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

Addressing the most fundamental themes of life and death, the versatile Paulsen produces a searing antiwar story. He bases his protagonist, Charley Goddard, on an actual Civil War soldier, a 15-year-old from Minnesota who lied about his age and ended up participating in most of the war's major battles. At first Paulsen's Charley is fired up by patriotic slogans and his own naive excitement; in a rare intrusion into the narrative, the author makes it clear that ending slavery was not the impetus: "Never did they speak of slavery. Just about the wrongheadedness of the Southern 'crackers' and how they had to teach Johnny Reb a lesson." But Charley's first battle?Bull Run?immediately disabuses him of his notions about honor and glory. A few sparely written passages describe the terror of the gunfire and the smoke from the cannons. Interwoven with these descriptions, a brilliant, fast-moving evocation of Charley's thoughts shows the boy's shocked realization of the price of war, his absolute certainty that he will die and his sudden understanding of the complex forces that prevent him from fleeing. Details from the historical record scorch the reader's memory: congressmen bring their families to picnic and watch the fighting that first day at Bull Run; soldiers pile the bodies of the dead into a five-foot-high wall to protect themselves from a winter wind. By the time Charley is finally struck down, at Gettysburg, he has seen it all: "At last he was right, at last he was done, at last he was dead." He is not in fact dead, but a victim of "soldier's heart," defined in an eloquent foreword as a contemporaneous term for what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder. Paulsen wages his own campaign for the audience's hearts and minds strategically and with great success. Elsewhere, as in The Rifle, he has told stories in service to a message; here the message follows from the story ineluctably. Charley comes across fully human, both his vulnerabilities and strengths becoming more pronounced as the novel progresses. Warfare, too, emerges complexly-while a lesser writer might attempt to teach readers to shun war by dint of the protagonist's profound disgust, Paulsen compounds the horrors of the battlefield by demonstrating how they trigger Charley's own bloodlust. Charley cannot recover from his years of war; in a smaller but more hopeful way, neither may the audience. Paulsen's storytelling is so psychologically true that readers will feel they have lived through Charley's experiences. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Gary Paulsen is one of the most honored writers of contemporary literature for young readers. He has written more than one hundred book for adults and young readers, and is the author of three Newberry Honor titles: Dogsong, Hatchet, and The Winter Room. He divides his time among Alaska, New Mexico, Minnesota, and the Pacific.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#56 in Books > Teens
#56 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

I had this book on one of my summer reading lists.
jay s
This marvelous book shows us the life of a common soldier named Charley Goddard during the Civil War.
Mario M.
When you read Gary Paulsen's novel Soldier's Heart, you can wonder what he was thinking.
John Brewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Fahim MD Tazwar on June 17, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
Although the amount of books based on Civil War is huge, very few books have talked about the life of simple soldiers in detail in order to know how the soldiers of the Civil War felt in the war. Gary Paulsen, a gifted writer, has filled up that absence quite successfully by only one book, named Soldier's Heart. Based on the Civil War experience of a real boy Charley, he brings the worst nightmare of the war into the pages of this book. Charley Goddard, a hard worker, soft hearted, adventure loving fifteen years boy has never been any place except his birthplace, Winona, Minnesota. When the war begins, the superficial images of the parade, uniform, pretty girls excite him and lead him to join in the Union army, lying about his age, since men under eighteen aren't allowed to go to fight. But as the harsh reality becomes clear, when he gets in the war, his all images vapor like heated camphor. He hasn't even thought about how terrible the war could be in reality. In his first battle his mind cries and prays to God, "I am not supposed to see these, GOD. No person supposes to see these. How can you let these happen?" But as the time passes Charley changes totally. He participates in all major battles of Civil War and finally gets wounded in the battle of Gettysburg. Gary Paulsen shows how a man's choice or mind changes when he participates in a war and uses Charley, as an example, who likes the shining revolver after war instead of other pretty things that he has liked before gets in the war. Paulsen's tiny details about battlefields help realizing how horrible the Civil War's battles were and also let the reader feel the way characters of the book have felt. Although this book is short and does not clearly describe some events, worth is beyond the price in currency.Read more ›
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Karen Barnett on December 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Soldier's Heart is an engrossing tale of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of the young hero of the book. Charley is a fifteen year old boy who longs for the excitement of the war and so he lies about his age and enlists in the Union Army. He is not prepared for the horror he experiences or with the reality of war. The author does a good job of letting the reader see and feel what the character experiences as he goes from situation to situation I think this book would be a good one to use in class when studying the Civil War. It really brings home the realism of the Civil War. Mr. Paulsen's details are wonderful, even the slang words of the time are included without being overdone. I was surprised to find also that this story was based on the life of a real Union soldier. I highly reccomend this book, especially to middle school students and to teachers who teach about the Civil War.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A Soldiers Heart is a book that I would recommend to other readers not only because of the great details that Gary Paulsen put into it, but because you relive the Civil War. I liked this book because it's about a boy that is 15 years old, Charley Gaddard. He lied about his age and joined the Minnesota Volunteers. Gary Pualsen is a wonderful writer, and Soldiers Heart is one of his best novels. The gore is not all that great, but you get used to it. This is a great book to read if you are learning about the Civil War. Charley was pretty brave for going into the Civil War at the age of 15. What a big task.
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Format: Hardcover
Kenny, Shawn, Cody and Chris liked this book because it was very graphic, descriptive and gory in most stages of the book. It was also a good book to read as a historical fiction requirement for History class. The boys would recommend this book to other readers that like Gary Paulsen's books, especially those about survival. Cody would like to recommend this book to anyone unfamiliar with Paulsen because this book will make you a fan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on July 2, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In 1861 Charley is fifteen years old, living on a farm in Minnesota with his mother and little brother. Everyone has heard the rumor that there is to be a war, with those in the North fighting to stop the Southern rebels from doing damage to the country. No one is quite sure if the war is really going to happen, but Charley is determined to be a part of it if it is.

He convinces his mother that he can handle himself as a soldier and tells her the eleven dollars a month he'll be paid will help her out, and she agrees to let him go. He signs up, lying about his age so they will let him into the army, and begins his training.

At first things are horribly boring. The volunteer military spends much of its time sitting around, doing drills that don't use up their ammunition, and eating really bad food. Charley is considering deserting and simply going home, when finally his unit marches into battle.

Their first battle is a bloodbath--his unit tries to march across an open field while rebel soldiers shoot at them from above. Charley isn't sure what he thought a shooting war would be like, but it was certainly nothing like this. As the war continues and Charley is a part of more and more battles, he learns what war really is, and sees more than his share of the horror of it.

I liked that war wasn't glamorized at all in this book--the narrator spoke of the boredom between battles and the horror of the battles themselves. Nothing was made out to be fun about it. I also liked that Charley was so shocked and couldn't get over what he had seen. He was just a kid when he went into war and it wouldn't have been realistic for him to handle it well.

However, this book was a little too simplistic. It didn't give any of the nuances of Charley's thoughts and feelings, and didn't explore the feelings of anyone except this one main character. I would have liked a bit more depth.
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