James M. McPherson is an American history expert and a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. It is never an easy task to present the horrors of the past in a way that will inform and interest young readers without terrifying them out of their wits. Teachers of history have been faced with this particular challenge over the years, and so to find Fields of Fury, an authentic history book, written for children, about the American Civil War, is a welcome teaching and learning resource. If you are interested in the topic of American Civil War, read more about our selection of the best civil war books.
Although it is important to note that this book is not suitable for the very young reader, a sensible teacher or parent will know when it is the right time to introduce children to these harsh facts about that terrible and momentous war. We have also included it in our best civil war books for kids article! Let’s read more in this Fields of Fury book review.
McPherson’s book Fields of Fury creates the opportunity for young readers to grasp, not only the horrors of the battles, but also the conflict that ripped apart society, families and beliefs during that particularly tumultuous time in American history. Fields of Fury book is a historically accurate and detailed account of the great leaders, the outcomes of the many battles and ultimate meaning of it all for the United States of America as it is today.
By including anecdotes and notes from soldiers in the thick of the action, we get a glimpse into what it was like to fight in a very different type of war to what we are used to seeing in films and on the news today. The summaries of the characteristics of the prominent leaders such as Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and Ulysses S. Grant, McPherson provide the young reader with all the necessary information to enable them to gain a deeper understanding of the times. We also recommend another James M. McPherson’s book called Battle Cry of Freedom. Don’t miss a chance to read about it in our article.
He also includes details of the end of the institution of slavery and the huge impact that this event had, not only on the lives of the slaves themselves, but on that of their owners and the plantations on which they worked. Interestingly, he includes information on the role of women, who were left alone to deal with the demise of their homes and livelihood during the conflict and insights into the general way of life in the Southern states at that time.
The addition of primary sources (a very important aspect in teaching history) such as some very graphic old black and white photographs, copies of oil paintings and battlefield maps provide an appealing visual stimulus for young historians. Children are fascinated by the gory details and can handle the truth provided that they are guided through the information and are of an appropriate age.
It is worth remembering that Fields of Fury is a book about war, so the expectation should be that there will be violence and atrocities committed by most of those involved. Hopefully, by not sugar-coating these aspects, the next generation will be better equipped to choose a different way to resolve conflict and will also hopefully choose to halt the promotion of such inhumane practices.
Another clever addition by the author is the “Quick Facts” which appear at the side of the pages. These include additional information, quotes and interesting anecdotes which are perfect for the reluctant reader who may not wish to tackle a full page of text. The writing and tone are, however, at a perfect level for the average reader who is interested in learning about the American Civil War.