Monday, June 17, 2013

Guns for General Washington

It seems that there are many children's books that seem to cluster around certain events in the American Revolution. These books seem to leave other events barely mentioned or forgotten. I love finding interesting books that cover those left out time periods in interesting ways. I have always found it disappointing that few books cover Washington's defeat of the British troops in Boston. Even the few I've reviewed and listed seem to have the munitions magically appear as if the trip from New York to Boston in winter was nothing. Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolutiontells the story of how Colonel Henry Knox first has to convince Washington to let him attempt the journey and then how he and his brother William manage the trip.

Growing up in this area with all the references to the Knox Trail I thought I was familiar with the history. However, I did learn a few things. One of the most interesting was how they thickened the ice to provide them with a better chance of getting their heavy sleds over the water.

The author does a great job at making this journey accessible for children. In a day with trucks and trains that can move equipment with the assistance of machines to load and unload them it is hard to imagine the challenge of moving Knox's artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. The physical and financial challenges of the terrain, weather, and war conditions can be hard for children to understand. The author does a great job of painting the scene and stressing the importance of the mission. It is only with Colonel Knox’s successful mission that the Colonial troops were able to take Dorchester Heights and force the British to leave Boston.

This is one of the author’s greatest strengths. He is able to write about military strategy in a way children can understand. Other books I have reviewed clearly indicate the strategic advantage of Washington moving artillery to Dorchester Heights. Some even write of the challenges and hardships that the British faced in leaving Boston as quickly as they did. This book presents Washington's military strategy and why it worked in terms children can easily understand. That is a topic I have not previously seen adequately addressed.

This is a historical account, not historical fiction as many of the previous novels I have reviewed. The adventure is an amazing accomplishment, but it may require more encouragement to get reluctant readers into the story without the time travel, added spies, interesting personal connections, and other devices historical fiction and historical fantasy use to engage readers. However, it is a short book only about 140 pages. It should not prove too daunting a task considering the amount of information provided. I think it is a worthy journey for parents or teachers who are willing to take it with their children or students.

No comments:

Post a Comment