So far in our military history section, we’ve covered several comic books by Wayne Vansant that infuses a bit of fun into our history classes. Plus, when you work with boys, comic books win the day. Vansant is a hero in this regard because he turns the bits of history into fun for the students.
And, I’m really starting to feel like a broken record here, and not just the preface to my review. I’m not really feeling these books from either a casual reader’s view, nor as an educator’s view.
For the kids it is a narrative with lots of pictures, an easy read, and fairly interesting. There is one thing: My 10-year-old nephew read this with me, but had a hard time keep track of who was who: Confederate or Union. I’m going to assume this means that a 13-year-old might find it hard to distinguish the finer details of this part of history. Thus, you can get a lot of mileage from a reading comprehension angle and work on reading carefully, along with pictures for clues with this book. I know we did. 🙂
Like other Vansant books like this, I found it not quite what I expected for a comic book, and not in-depth enough for a history book. As a super condensed version of the Battle of Gettysburg, it seems to do a pretty good job of laying things out to show you what is going on — there were lots of strategy maps throughout, which definitely helped my nephew and I understand who was going where.
Yes, I get excited about maps because it helps the reader, especially young ones that don’t know the area, see where the action is happening.
Some of the reviews on Goodreads were glowing, and a couple of interesting ones point out that to put this section of history into a compact 96 pages, you are in for a trial. In my opinion, and theirs, Vansant did a pretty good job of pulling out the highlights, personalities, personal conflicts, and even some of the politics.
From a history standpoint, the data is accurate and understandable, so I’d give it a 3.5. Like most of Vansant’s other comic books in this area, it might be enough to piqué someone’s interest, but there was not a lot of depth to some other parts of the story. What he does well though, besides the map, is show a little bit more of diplomacy and personalities conflict of the leaders. You get a real sense of what happened on a personal level for the leaders, the courage they showed, and the impact on American history.
As I did with the other Vansant books, I took the time to check the info against a military historian, Travis Beiersdorfer. It’s fairly accurate, but Beiersdorfer said you’d probably get more from watching the History Channel or renting videos from the library. Despite of this, it’s a great way to get some history, reading practice, and show the kids that textbooks don’t necessarily have to be boring. I’d suggest to grab the books from your local library, work through the reading guide, then watch a few episodes from the History Channel to round it out.