The Perilous Road

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Chris Brabson hated the Union troops—and he had his reasons. Yankee raiders in the Tennessee mountains had stolen the newly harvested crops, all the meat supply laid by for the winter, and the Brabsons’ only horse. A Union soldier had even taken Chris’s deerskin shirt—the one for which he’d tanned and cured the hides so carefully—before he’d had a chance to wear it. Chris could not understand how his brother could have joined the Northern Army or how his mother and father, despite their abhorrence of war and its destruction, could fail to take sides. But one thing he did know—he would fight for the Confederacy.
Swept on by his burning hatred, Chris reports the presence of a Yankee supply train coming up the valley. Only when he learns his brothers is probably in that troop does the full meaning of his act strike him. Caught in the bitter battle at dawn, when the Confederates make a surprise attack, Chris comes to realize the full meaning of his father’s words:”A man can believe the Union ought to stay in one piece and still be a good decent man that do’t deserve to be killed. Or a body can favor secession and the Confederacy if that’s the way he feels about it. Like I told you before, war is the worst thing that can happen to folks, and the reason is it makes most everybody do things they shouldn’t.”
William O. Steele, one of the finest writers of books for young people today, combines a deep sense of human values with rare storytelling skill in a compelling book that carries the reader without pause to the very end. The Perilous Road is not only a stirring story of the War between the States, but a superb portrayal of the difficult and dangerous path one boy must follow before he learns the senseless waste of war and the true meaning of courage and tolerance. 

Paperback, 176 pages

Published September 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1958)


My Review:


Talk about a reading experience of the way things used to be. The writing, the spelling...all from the older days. 

Chris Brabson and his family are Southerners during the Civil War. They live in TN, close to Chattanooga, and just like any good little hard working family, they mind their own business and try to make a living with their little farm. 

Chris has his opinions about the Union Army, and it is not a very high one. When his brother joins this army and Chris witnesses them taking supplies from the local farmers and his own parents, he is livid. He can't understand how his father seems to not do anything about it. How he isn't upset about his son having joined the Union soldiers and not the Rebels. 

Chris tries to take things in his own hands to show he is a real Rebel. He devises a plan that not only puts him and others in danger, hence 'The Perilous Road', but becomes so tangled up that a good turn by a Unions soldier could change things forever unexpectedly. 


I am not certain children will enjoy reading this book nowadays. It reads like required reading. Old text. BUT...the message is valid. Chris's feelings are relatable and blown out of proportions in part to make his point. His growth from immature to understanding the world a little better is a working process that kids can relate to, to understand the moral of this story. 

There were some tense moments to hook onto for the reader, but in all I am glad I am through with it. The strange thing though is, even if you don't like a book or it felt like required reading, it's the one that sticks with you. If for no other reason than the book you tell everyone about, you didn't like.