Admittedly, I'm not a huge history buff like a lot of you out there. I've enjoyed my share of historical fiction, but I'm never one jumping up and down with excitement about history. That being said, this book is one to be excited about. Written about the tragic circumstances within a Civil War prison, history fantatics will find lots of great information that isn't as publicized as a lot of facts about the war...and those that aren't so into history just might be wanting to research even more about the Civil War once they've finished (I know I will be!).
Andersonville was a Confederate prison that only lasted for about 14 months of the entire Civil War, but long enough to make a name for itself as being horrific. Located in Georgia, it was only built to house approximately 10,000 Yankee prisoners, yet held over 32,000 in 1864. Can you imagine?
The living conditions were disgusting, with disease running rampant and starvation a common occurrence. Images of WWII concentration camps were running through my head while reading about the horrors these men had to deal with when captured. When the war was over, a trial was held regarding these terrible conditions and Captain Henry Wirz, the prison's commander, was hanged.
Most interesting was how the prison came to be established and the first-person accounts that author Catherine Gourley was able to uncover. I was impressed with the amount of information covered, though at times the text did get a bit wordy and I found myself skimming a little. There are lots of facts boxes and sidebars with personal stories that helped break up the text, but it was still a little word-heavy at times.
Not the most exciting book to look at (all of the photos and drawings are black-and-white), the stories inside are remarkable and definitely make up for the lack of visual intrigue. Students could easily use this book for a social studies project, though I don't see them sitting down and just reading it for pleasure. A great resource though!
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death Inside a Civil War Prison
Twenty-First Century Books
Review copy received from publisher
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