"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, January 26, 2019

MOSBY: GRAY GHOST of the CONFEDERACY by Jonathan Daniels

Published in 1959 by J.B. Lippincott Company.

Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby (1833-1916)
Back in the 1950's and 1960's several publishing houses put out series of biographies aimed at upper elementary students. The most famous of these was Random House's Landmark Series. They were small hardback books with thick pages and lots of line drawings. They were long on action and short on analysis.

This book is similar in every way to that series except that it was printed by the J.B. Lippincott Company.

There is literally nothing about John Mosby's childhood in this biography, which is a little odd since there was a similar series at the same time, with the same physical format called Childhood of Famous Americans published by Bobbs-Merrill.

John Mosby was a Confederate cavalry officer in the Civil War who became a Partisan Ranger. Partisan Rangers were irregular forces, not really part of the armies they supported and able to take shares of any spoils of war that they captured. This book does not discuss any of the moral issues of recruiting an army that fought for spoils (much like the Confederacy's privateer navy), but it makes it clear that Mosby did not take any shares of goods captured.

As I stated above, this book is long on action and short on analysis. There is perhaps one sentence about slavery (Mosby was against it). There are also only five pages about Mosby's life after he put away his uniform. But, there are lots of stories of horses racing down back roads and fighting Union soldiers. They are not organized particularly well, which makes it sort of a confusing to tell if the stories were all part of certain campaigns or were all separate incidents.

This book was aimed at 10-12 year olds, an age group that particularly values fast-moving stories with lots of action over analysis and an over-arching cohesive story, so with that in mind, it hits the spot. If this book were an adult's only introduction to John Mosby, it would be deficient.

I rate this book 3 stars out of 5, mostly for the confusing way he told about his campaigns. It can be found on Amazon.com here: MOSBY: GRAY GHOST of the CONFEDERACY by Jonathan Daniels.

Here is a link to another book I have reviewed on John Mosby (with way too many details, ironically): Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby by James A. Ramage

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