Ebookwormy1's Reviews > With Lee in Virginia

With Lee in Virginia by G.A. Henty
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's review
Apr 25, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: kids-chapterbooks, fiction, history
read count: 1

I had heard a lot about G.A. Henty and his excellent books for boys, so I wanted to read one. I was surprised to find this amidst my own books, a castoff from someone, somewhere. So I read it.

There was one thing about this book that stood out very strongly to me. I have read a lot about the Civil War, but little about the war from a Southern perspective (after all, most history is written by the winners!). After reading this book, I understood to a new level of clarity why the Southerners were fighting, which constitutional issues were at stake and how/ why these principles were central to the culture of the South. Yes, it was about slavery - that i had gotten before - but Henty articulated the broader context of Southern culture and reasoning well. Perhaps he was aided by being closer to the complexities of the time.

It was an enjoyable read. The main character demonstrates courage, responsibility, honor, thoughtfulness for others, self-control and perseverence amidst the backdrop of the civil war. While the hardships of war are covered, they are not glorified.

Henty's work complements that of Ballantyne, who wrote during the same time for the same audience, young men. However, both were so compelling that young women and adults joined in the adventure. Written in the nineteeth century, there is a goodness in these tales, a simpleness in the view of the world that we have lost as our world became smaller in modern times. It seems a good thing to give young people, particularly those who read voraciously as between Henty and Ballantyne they will find more than 200 titles between them. I would also add the later writing Arthur Ransom to the list. A resurgence of interest in these authors by the home school community has made them more widely available. We found ours as e-books and got them for free from Amazon, it only cost us the time to download so many.

This is not classic literature at its best and the story does not remain with me, but, overall, I found this to be an excellent book for a young person to read. The story was adventurous and moving, the main character a young man, and there is a lot here to contribute to moral development.

The Coral Island, Ballantyne, 1857

Swallows & Amazons, Ransom, 1930

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