I spent part of last evening, stretched out on my daybed, reading children's nonfiction. I read about collecting baseball memorabilia, Alexander Calder (who got his start making a complete circus using wire with all parts movable) and something which has completely escaped my mind. Earlier in the day, I had finished Washington at Valley Forge by Russell Freedman. I learned so much: Valley Forge started as an absolute disaster--no lodgings, food rations in miniscule amounts, soldiers dressed in rags and less--but ended up as a huge success, with the troops building wooden cabins for shelter, a Quartermaster who actually requisitioned food and supplies for the men, the troops receiving training that turned them into an efficient and effective army. Did you know that Martha Washington (indeed, many of the wives and families) was at Valley Forge, staying in a small cabin with her husband?
Russell Freedman is an amazing author: intelligent, curious, entertaining with the ability to bring characters (and situations) to life in your mind. I first encountered him in Eleanor Roosevelt: a life of discovery where he made me fall in love with Eleanor, the shy, clumsy child who became the First Lady of the World, the eyes of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. Then came The life and death of Crazy Horse; the Newbery Award-winning Lincoln: a photobiography; the story of a German aristocrat and a Swiss artist traveling throughout the Dakota territories with a Native American guide in An Indian Winter. More recent books include The adventures of Marco Polo and The voice that changed a nation: Marian Anderson and the struggle for equal rights.
I looked Mr. Freedman up on the Internet and first, let me say he looks exactly as he should: curly gray hair and beard, intelligent and warm in appearance. He says he writes books about subjects he is curious about and you can feel the sense of understanding and learning
he brings to his writing. I would read about any subject he cared to write about--he makes history come alive!
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