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Civil War Series (8-Book Set)

By Joseph A. Altsheler
Zeezok Publishing, LLC

PO Box 1960
Elyria, OH 44036

Our home is a history-loving home, and we have many resources on our bookshelves to provide for our need to read in that area. We are huge fans of G. A. Henty's books, and I never thought I would find another author whose work I found to be comparable in engaging writing style and literary quality. I was wrong! This eight-book Civil War series, written by Joseph A. Altsheler and reprinted by Zeezok Publishing, is a winner.

Joseph A. Altsheler (1862-1919) was born in Kentucky, and he became a very popular writer of juvenile historical fiction in the early 1900s. His most successful series is said to be The Young Trailers (which I plan to find), but I can whole-heartedly recommend this Civil War series without reservation. The eight books in the set alternately recount the unfolding story of the War Between the States through the lives and experiences of Kentucky cousins Harry Kenton (Confederate) and Dick Mason (Union).

These paperback books are good quality, and the cost for the whole set runs about $99.99. Each book alone is $12.95. According to the Zeezok Publishing site, their editing team updated the punctuation and footnoted unfamiliar words for modern readers. I especially liked that feature of the books, because it was nice to have the definition of lesser-known words at the bottom of the page for easy reference--a great vocabulary builder to boot! In my opinion, you get more than you pay for.

Altsheler was an excellent writer and compelling storyteller, and his mastery of the English language was superb. He was able to convey time, place, and emotion perfectly, and I was drawn into each story from the beginning. In fact, I found it difficult to put the books down to take care of other tasks. Honestly, I think I learned more about the Civil War from these books than I have ever learned from any other resource. Mr. Altsheler made history come alive, and I felt as though I was experiencing the fierce battles first-hand. I also agree 100% with this statement from Zeezok Publishing: "Unlike many contemporary historical fiction accounts of the Civil War, this series brings to life the human drama of the war without resorting to foul language and gratuitous violence." The books include:

The Guns of Bull Run
The Guns of Shiloh
The Scouts of Stonewall
The Sword of Antietam
The Star of Gettysburg
The Rock of Chickamauga
Shades of the Wilderness
The Tree of Appomattox

Along with the eight books, I received a PDF study guide to use with the set; it is a great resource as well. It is 21 pages long and includes:

Timeline of Events in the Civil War series
Crossword Puzzles
Coloring Sheets
Vocabulary Quizzes
Historical Notes
Civil War Recipes (hardtack and 'johnnie' cake)
Civil War Scavenger Hunt
Additional Resources

I cannot say enough good things about this outstanding series, and I am so glad it is now part of our homeschool collection. If you are a G. A. Henty fan, you will love Joseph Altsheler. If you simply enjoy history, especially Civil War history, you will love these books. High-quality, gripping stories from history--"living" books. What more could you ask for? Highly recommended!

Product review by Amy M. O'Quinn, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July 2010

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