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Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies Hardcover – October 11, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—During the Civil War, women and girls filled rifle cartridges by hand for the armies of the North and the South. These women and girls, most of whom were immigrants, poured gunpowder, worked with percussion caps, and stacked completed ammunition. Flammable and explosive materials were everywhere—one spark spelled disaster. Anderson pieces together the before and after of the deadly explosions that occurred at the Allegheny Arsenal in Lawrenceville, PA; the Confederate States Laboratory in Richmond, VA; and the Washington Arsenal in Washington, DC. Each event is foreshadowed, described in detail, and then investigated. With the help of primary source documents, the author examines life working in an arsenal (including diagrams on how to fill a cartridge) to give shape to the lives of these often forgotten women. Using census records, Anderson identifies the victims of each accident by name and age. Extensive back matter makes this a useful selection for research or reports. Pair this highly readable title with Albert Marrin's Flesh and Blood So Cheap for a look at working conditions in U.S. history. VERDICT Recommended for teen history buffs.—Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI
''Told clearly and engagingly, this book is sure to hook young history fans...and maybe create some new ones'' -- Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books, St. Louis ''Wow! This story is unprecedented. The accounts of the explosions themselves are as harrowing as narrative gets.'' -- Elizabeth Norton, Commerce Township (Mich.) Community Library ''Anderson uncovers the hidden history of the Gunpowder Girls, who made ammunition during the War, through compelling narrative that brings history alive with primary source research.'' -- Lizz Zitron, Mortvedt Library, Pacific Lutheran University --Reviews
''Outstanding. . . Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this tragic story of 140 girls and young women killed by gunpowder explosions in three arsenals where they produced ammunition for Civil War armies reveals details previously unfamiliar even to Civil War historians. We can now add their names to the human toll of America's greatest conflict.'' --James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
''Clear, engaging prose. . . Extensive backmatter adds gravitas. The employment plight of so many women of the era--few jobs and low pay--is amply illustrated. This grim, enlightening tale is most likely to appeal to those who seek out disaster stories or have an interest in American history.'' --Kirkus Reviews, September 2016 issue
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Top customer reviews
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Meticulously researched, filled with anecdotes and photos to make the events come alive, and completed with ties to historical and ongoing struggles for women's rights, this book is well worth the read for anyone, but especially as a classroom centerpiece to help students understand why they should crave studying and researching history.
Theses young women were assembling cartridges for use in muskets and rifles. In all three instances covered by this book the gunpowder with which they were working was accidentally set off into horrific explosions. The locations and dates of the three explosions covered by this book and the resulting number of deaths are listed below:
Allegheny Arsenal...........................78 deaths
September 17, 1862
Confederate States Laboratory........45 deaths
March 13, 1863
Washington Arsenal..........................21 deaths
June 17, 1864
This book is targeted toward a young adult readership and is well illustrated. It contains numerous interesting sidebar snippets of information. The personal stories about some of the victims are particularly poignant. I believe it is the sort of book that YA's will find to be interesting and educational.
A YA historical account of 3 civilian tragedies during the American Civil War in which most of the casualties were girls and women. A book for students interested in the topic that is written more like a novella than a collection of historical facts with a subject matter that is long overdue. A few photographs are included as well as a decent bibliography.
LT Early Reviewer