REMEMBER VALLEY FORGE; Thomas B. Allen; Washington, D. C.: National Geographic, 2007.
One in a series of excellent historical texts for children done by the National Geographic Society, Remember Valley Forge is a deeply touching, powerful, broadly informative account of the Continental Army's privations and triumphs at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778. Stories of troops who refused, as many did, to desert or to resign their commissions even though they had insufficient clothing and food, and no shoes are heartbreaking, but the ultimate encouraging conclusion to Allen's work is that overcoming the hardships of Valley Forge strengthened and molded the Continental Army into a brotherhood and a fighting forcethat would eventually lead to British surrender. Familiar and not to familiar historical figures populate these pages: we mostly know the Marquis de Lafayette's contributions to the American cause, but how about Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, late of the Prussian army who did asmuch or more than any other man to form a gaggle of state militias into a unified army of the United States, drilling and teaching daily during the hard days at Valley Forge. Benjamin Talmadge, General Washington's spymaster, extracted valuable information on British activities in Philadelphia from agents and double agents, though his name is not today well known. (At least by me.) Remember Valley Forge is a great, short, but comprehensive look at a signal moment of American history, instructive and heartening as we face the troubles of these days.