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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Everyday Life: The Civil War

By Walter A. Hazen
Good Year Books

PO Box 91858
Tucson, Arizona 85752

Battles are not the focus of this 88-page history text on the Civil War. If you are looking for a text that will take your imagination to one of the most important time periods in American history, this will do it.

This text is not so much about the war as it is about the times. It briefly addresses the causes of the Civil War, citing the evils of slavery. The book's many drawings and photographs make it easier to imagine what life was like then. There is a depiction of a slave auction, a photo of Harriet Tubman posing with a group of slaves that she led to freedom, and pictures of various leaders of the times, such as Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and President Lincoln.

This text reveals what it would have been like to be a soldier as well as the things that were happening on the home front. It lightly touches on the complexities of the war and the advantages of both sides. It describes new innovations, the truth about the hospitals and prisons, and the plight of African Americans during this time. I closed the book, feeling that I had spent some time in this era.

The chapters are short. For example, the chapter on leaders very briefly states a few facts on each of the following: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. All four are brought to life within five concise pages.

There are many activities and worksheets throughout the book--math activities, vocabulary exercises, writing exercises, and puzzles. There is also a pull-out map in the back of the text with a map key to give you a better understanding of how our country was divided. The answer key is in the back of the book, as well as additional resources for children and adults.

Overall, this is a fun book filled with intriguing bits of information about the Civil War. It could be used to springboard your student to a more in-depth study of that time period.

The recommended grade level for this text is fourth through eighth. I would probably suggest sixth grade and up. I am looking forward to using this book with my children.

Product review by Ruth Hoskins, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, November 2006

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