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4 Stars - Great! Run out and buy it!
3 Stars - Good! Recommended!
2 Stars - Flawed! Some redeeming features. Get it from the library.
1 Star - Gawd-awful! Avoid this one!
half Star - Don't Ask!
Not Rated - Not Rated!

These are, of course, only our opinions. Your comments or rebuttals to the Webmaster are always welcome.

  4 Stars Great Civil War Projects You can Build Yourself --- Maxine Anderson -- Nomad Press. $14.95.

This book can be viewed from two different perspectives. First, it can be thought of as a children's PROJECTS book. A book that teaches about history by having children construct things, such as Kepi's, a telegraph, a drum, etc. using fairly easy to find items in the home. Second, it can be thought of as a PRIMER on the Civil War; a way to mold young minds to the reasons and results of the events of that time.


When you look at the projects in this book, you wonder why something like this was not thought of before. (If it was, I am not aware of it.) What a great concept!

Using this book you can, among many projects, build a paddlewheeler, an ironclad, a working camera, a periscope, and a telegraph. You can also make quilts, dolls, and food, including dehydrated fruit. Most projects are easy to complete and the required material is easy to acquire. However, a few items, such as a garden hose, which is to be cut up to make a bugle, may be harder for a young person to find.

The telegraph project is especially interesting to me, since I have been in Amateur Radio for many years. I find it delightful that this book might generate in its readers an interest in the telegraph, and Morse code. (One minor aside; on the Morse code chart on Page 65, the letter "B" should be listed as "-..." and "Query" [or question mark] should be shown as "..--..")

As a projects book about the Civil War times, I would definitely recommend this work.


However, this is not just a projects book. It is also an interpretive work that provides the reader with an unequivocal reason for the Civil War. From Page 2, "So what was the cause of the war? In a word, slavery." Following that assertion, in the next 70+ pages devoted to Civil War history, almost 20 pages make reference to slavery.

As a descendent of both Confederate and Union soldiers (see my ancestors' page), I have strong feelings regarding why they fought and what caused the war. Contrary to current doctrine, I do not believe the cause of the War is as clear as one word, and I don't believe that the reason the soldiers fought is that obvious. Thousands of books have been written on the Civil War and even the learned scholars who wrote the books cannot agree on all of it.

I disagree with the interpretation given in this book, but I have no problem with it being published.


Taking into consideration the positive and negative aspects of this book, from my point of view, I feel that its positives, as a projects book, outweigh its negatives, as a history book, to such a significant degree that I can give it a good (three star) recommendation.

However, I would add the caveat that it not be the reader's only source of Civil War history.

Content Team

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