Sometimes a war's greatest heroes are its survivors, those who manage to forge new lives despite the tragedy they have experienced. For the sixteen unsung heroes profiled in Beyond Their Years, surviving also meant surrendering their childhood. These children found themselves on the edge of the fray - both in combat and in the throes of daily life - helping, or simply enduring, as best their interrupted youths allowed. Their behind-the-scenes stories illustrate what it was really like for children during the Civil War. Meet Ransom Powell, a thirteen-year-old drummer boy who survived grueling Confederate prison camps; writer and patriot Maggie Campbell, only eight years old when the war ended; Ulysses S. Grant's son Jesse, who rode proudly alongside Abraham Lincoln's son Tad and Ella Sheppard, daughter of a slave mother and a freed father, who lived through the backlash of slave rebellions. Each of these young survivors' lives represent an amazing contribution to the war effort and to postbellum life. Learn the inspiring stories of these American children who displayed courage, devotion, and wisdom beyond their years. (6 x 9, 176 pages, b&w photos)

Scotti McAuliff Cohn is a freelance writer in Bloomington, Illinois, graduated in English from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota., author of Beyond Their Years: Stories of Sixteen Civil War Children

It's rare for a modern writer to make a genuinely new discovery about the Civil War, but former intelligence officer Edwin C. Fishel pulls it off in The Secret War for the Union. Having stumbled upon a large collection of previously unknown documents at the National Archives, he describes in this book the undercover operations of the Army of the Potomac. Federal intelligence, by Fishel's account, was crucially important to winning the war, and was of much higher quality than previously assumed. Among other accomplishments, it appears to have played a vital role in the Union victory at Gettysburg. This surprise--and a few others--await serious readers.

Margaret Leech's "Reveille in Washington" is a fact filled book that betray's her origins as a novelist.
For the Civil War afficianodo, there are many tidbits that add to one's understanding of the Civil War as viewed from Washington, D.C. These involve fascinating interactions among the players (Lincoln, members of the Senate, Stanton, Seward and Chase), and also reminders that even in the midst of war, Washington still minded the habits and customs of society in our nation's capital. Lincoln still had (as the first host) parties, endured the countless details of administration and grinding demands of petitioners, and found time for levity and respit.
Like its counterpoint "Ashes of Glory," an excellent account of wartime Richmond, Reveille in Washington will broaden the understanding of those of us who have waded through countless military oriented books of the Civil War. Ms. Leech also includes a helpful timeline and an excellent appendix on scores of the characters in her book. For those who often wonder "what happened after..." to historical personages, the appendix will satisfy by tying up a lot of loose ends. More history books should follow this habit.
My only slight criticism is Ms. Leech's overuse of adjectives. She describes every person and proper noun, sometimes to the point of distraction like a florid romance novel. This both helps and hinders the tale. While it makes the events and persons more imaginable to the mind's eye, she undoubtedly takes some literary license in describing thoughts, feelings and descriptions that can only be surmised. All in all it is not a major distraction, but does sometimes become tiresome.
That having been said, this portrait of Washington fills the gaps to a great story. Not only are the principals covered, but ordinary people, nurses, city jailers, prostitutes, hucksters and regular folk are given their due in this fascinating book that at times throbs with the pulse of a City that struggles to accomodate a war often at its borders and its need to reflect it's own normalcy and image as a first city in the midst of the great distraction outside it's gates.
An enjoyable read.

Mary Greenhow Lee

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