Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A-Z Wednesday

A-Z Wednesday is hosted by Vicky of Reading at the Beach. To join, look here.

This weeks letter is: R

Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

Book Description:
Jeff Bussey walked briskly up the rutted wagon road toward Fort Leavenworth on his way to join the Union volunteers. It was 1861 in Linn County, Kansas, and Jeff was elated at the prospect of fighting for the North at last.

In the Indian country south of Kansas there was dread in the air; and the name, Stand Watie, was on every tongue. A hero to the rebel, a devil to the Union man, Stand Watie led the Cherokee Indian Na-tion fearlessly and successfully on savage raids behind the Union lines. Jeff came to know the Watie men only too well.

He was probably the only soldier in the West to see the Civil War from both sides and live to tell about it. Amid the roar of cannon and the swish of flying grape, Jeff learned what it meant to fight in battle. He learned how it felt never to have enough to eat, to forage for his food or starve. He saw the green fields of Kansas and Okla-homa laid waste by Watie's raiding parties, homes gutted, precious corn deliberately uprooted. He marched endlessly across parched, hot land, through mud and slash-ing rain, always hungry, always dirty and dog-tired.

And, Jeff, plain-spoken and honest, made friends and enemies. The friends were strong men like Noah Babbitt, the itinerant printer who once walked from Topeka to Galveston to see the magnolias in bloom; boys like Jimmy Lear, too young to carry a gun but old enough to give up his life at Cane Hill; ugly, big-eared Heifer, who made the best sourdough biscuits in the Choctaw country; and beautiful Lucy Washbourne, rebel to the marrow and proud of it. The enemies were men of an-other breed - hard-bitten Captain Clardy for one, a cruel officer with hatred for Jeff in his eyes and a dark secret on his soul.

This is a rich and sweeping novel-rich in its panorama of history; in its details so clear that the reader never doubts for a moment that he is there; in its dozens of different people, each one fully realized and wholly recognizable. It is a story of a lesser--known part of the Civil War, the Western campaign, a part different in its issues and its problems, and fought with a different savagery. Inexorably it moves to a dramat-ic climax, evoking a brilliant picture of a war and the men of both sides who fought in it.

Winner, 1958 Newbery Medal
Notable Children's Books of 1957 (ALA)
1964 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award

My thoughts:
A friend recommended this book for my son, so I decided I would read it myself. I enjoyed the story so much I bought the book and then insisted that my husband read it. It really gives you a different look of the Civil War by showing the good and the ugly of both sides.
This story has everything you could want in a story, and I personally think it is a must read for boys.

I do have to give a warning though, I find the title of the book very misleading! I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out what the story had to do with the title. The title eventually makes sense in the end, but for me it caused too much confusion. If you decide to read it, I suggest to ignore the title and dive right into the story, you won't be disappointed!


  1. I'm not really into historical and war novels but I might make an exception for this one...

    Here's my R book

  2. This sounds really good. Wonder if my oldest son would be interested in it.

  3. Now this is something I would love to read. Thanks for showcasing it.

    A-Z Wednesday: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  4. Thanks for stopping by. I love war stories, probably some of my mother's influence. But thank you for the review. I too find that sometimes you wonder what the author was thinking when the choose a title.

  5. Ah, a Newberry book! I took a course in college (a hundred years ago!), during which we read several Newberry books (as well as Caldecott's). Of course, that was long before this one came out, I'm sure.

    My post is here:

  6. Hi!
    Sounds like a great book! Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  7. My SIL loves anything to do with the Civil War. I need to get this for him.

    Thanks for playing!

  8. I love historical and war era books ! This is on my list now! Thanks for sharing!

  9. This would be great for the Civil war challenge and read a book writtem before I was born (just) challenge that I am in.

  10. This sounds interesting. Sounds like a book my Dad would enjoy.

    Here is my `R` book:

  11. The Civil War hold some interest for me, I think mainly because I lived for a while in Gettysburg and worked at the old visitor's center. I may have to see if our library has this.

  12. I liked this one when I read my way through the Newbery's. It's a good book to pair with Red Badge of Courage.

    I'm always happy to see other people rec'ing kidlit books, since so many of my books are!



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