Friday, December 7, 2012

Bleeding Kansas by Richard Reece: Book Review

"Essential Events" series
Bleeding Kansas
Author: Richard Reece
Publisher: ABDO Publishing Company, 2012
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Age: 12 up, Young Adult nonfiction
Pages: 111

In Reece's new book, Bleeding Kansas, students studying the Civil War will gain a deeper understanding of how the war began. In 1854, the Territory of Kansas became center stage in the nation’s heated debate over slavery. Senator Stephen A. Douglas pushed through legislation (Kansas-Nebraska Act) that allowed settlers in Kansas to decide whether slavery would be legal in their territory. There were sharp divisions among the settlers. Slavery was voted in as legal, but the anti-slavery settlers questioned the handling and fairness of the election. Violence and bloodshed erupted between the two groups, culminating in bloody massacres, as in the Pottawatomie Massacre (1856), led by anti-slavery advocate John Brown; and the Confederate raid on Lawrence, Kansas (1863) during the Civil War. Some historians believe that the conflict in Kansas actually “led to the Civil War,” Reece writes. He further explains how slavery had gained a foothold in the United States, becoming vital to the country’s economy and wealth from the beginning. However, objections to slavery grew over time, but not on moral grounds alone. Many Americans argued that slavery reduced the number of jobs available to free citizens. Photos, images, and sketches bring to life the conflict, and Reece uses sidebars to describe related events, such as the Missouri Compromise, the Abolition Movement, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, the Dred Scott Decision, and the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Timeline, Glossary, Essential Facts, Resources, and Index are included.  

Copyright 2012 © Sharon M. Himsl

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