From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Background, strategies, and key individuals involved in the 1864 battle of Nashville come to life in this engaging piece of history. Starting on the eve of the fighting, the narrative then shifts back to examine the complex series of events leading to that moment, outlining the causes of the Civil War, key developments, and major figures. When the battle description finally begins, readers have a full understanding of the issues and conflicts that impacted the results so strongly. The history is fascinating, though occasionally oversimplified: it's implied, for example, that the Underground Railroad formed in response to the Dred Scott decision. Compelling personalities such as Lincoln, Grant, and especially General George H. Thomas are effectively developed throughout the historical account. The conflict between Grant and Thomas over when to attack is riveting, as Thomas's confidence and patience prove ultimately successful. Battle scenes are vivid, capturing the chaos and emotion involved, and military strategies, such as the innovative use of cavalry, are explained clearly. Plentiful illustrations from the period, including many portraits and several dramatic two-page paintings, help bring the period to life. Sources for all quotations are provided, though occasional assumptions are made about emotions and motivations. The author's admiration for Thomas shines throughout, concluding with the postscript assertion that he “was the greatest patriot-soldier America had ever produced.” This informative title fills in a subject gap, since most Civil War books for youth provide only cursory mention of Thomas and Nashville.–Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Broader in scope than its title implies, this book offers an alternate perspective on the Civil War and its generals. Bobrick, who wrote Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas (2009) for adults, now offers young people an account of the Civil War emphasizing General Thomas and the Battle of Nashville, which he calls “the most important battle of the American Civil War.” Knowledgeable and passionate about his subject, Bobrick is quite critical of Generals Grant and Sherman, but he unstintingly praises Thomas, calling his death “a national calamity” and saying, “With the single exception of George Washington, George H. Thomas was the greatest patriot-soldier America had ever produced.” Black-and-white and sepia-and-white reproductions of period photos, drawing, paintings, and prints illustrate the text. The book’s extensive back matter includes source notes for quotes, a bibliography, and the full texts of Lincoln’s two inaugural addresses. Although most Civil War books for young people blandly present the same widely held views, this one expresses a different point of view and does so with conviction. Grades 7-9. --Carolyn Phelan