Wilson, John. Death on the River.
Orca 2009 196p 12.95 978-1-55469-111-1 ms/jr
This is the story of Jake Clay, who joins the Union Army after his brother’s death. At the battle of Cold Harbour, VA. he is captured and sent to Andersonville. His story relates the horror, disease, and starvation soldiers underwent for the sake of freedom. Everyone knows that the Civil War was full of terror and devastation. These facts are brought out for the readers as they read through the trials and tribulations that Jake underwent.
As Jake describes the battle in VA. readers will see the cold hearted manner in which Generals sent their men into battle. You will glimpse what is it like to see your fellow soldiers dying and begging for help.
After his capture he is transported to Andersonville. The camp had over 30,000 soldiers. It was truly the survival of the fittest. The terrors of the camp overwhelmed him so he teamed up with Billy Shart, an opportunistic street kid who knew his way around the place. Many things happened during his stay in Andersonville that made Jake uncomfortable. Towards the end of the war Jake was haunted by the ghosts of those who died so he could live.
This is a well written book that will provide the reader with an understanding an insight into the perils of war. The author did a fantastic job of relating the cruelties of war without making it gruesome for young readers. Many times adolescents don’t realize the deadly undercurrents of some periods in our history. It needs to be brought into focus that participating in a war is not like playing a video game. Dead men do not come back to life. Linda McNeil