History of Us, Volume 6: War, Terrible War

Book cover: 'History of Us, Volume 6: War, Terrible War'
Joy Hakim
Oxford University Press
Number of pages: 
160 pages
Grade / Age level: 

This is an interesting, very readable overview of the Civil War. There is a significant focus on the issue of slavery as a plague upon American culture of the time. The author's basic thesis is that, while different people fought for different reasons and the focus was especially blurred when the war began (when there was more emphasis on preservation of the union), the war was essentially fought over the issue of slavery.

Although the author herself is not consistent on this issue in her final volume, a lot can be learned from studying her stories, ideas and conclusions about slavery in light of the current abortion debate. A thoughtful older student might even study this volume thoroughly and compare it with Hakim's significantly-problematic treatment of the 20th century. Hakim makes a significant effort to be fair to the intentions of both North and South while clearly believing that the North has the upper moral hand on the slavery issue.

Although the writing style is quite engaging, all the side bar quotes and information do make a cover-to-cover reading a little choppy. This volume could be used very beneficially as a "spine book" to tie together a study of the Civil War with an emphasis on great stories such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and Killer Angels. Most approriate for grades 6-8 but usable for anyone studying the Civil War. The book can have the effect of kindling an interest in the topic and inviting the student to learn more on their own.

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