Preston Law writes children¿s book with Civil War theme

December 28, 2012
  • Preston Law has authored a childrens book with a Civil War theme called Drummer Boy for the Bonnie Blue.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Age: 79

City in which you reside: Hagerstown

Day job: Retired

Book title: "Drummer Boy for the Bonnie Blue"

Genre: Children/adolescents, for ages 9 to 16

Synopsis of book: The Civil War experienced through the eyes of a boy, Thad. His adventures as a drummer boy and the war's impact.

Publisher: White Mane Kids, Shippensburg, Pa.

Price: $12.95

What inspired you to write the book?

The 150th (sesquicentennial) anniversary of the Civil War, with desire to have young students be informed/knowledgeable of the real war.

Why did you want to tell the story with young readers in mind?

To introduce them to the reality rather than the romance of the Civil War while they are young and impressionable.

The foreword was written by Ted Alexander, chief historian at Antietam National Battlefield, and author John W. Schildt wrote the introduction. What did this mean to you?

It is of critical value to me to have had Ted and John read and support my book. It means everything to me.

There are some illustrations throughout the book that you did yourself, why did you want to include a visual element to your book?

Good advice from Ted Alexander. Kids can't visualize on their own, scenes and events from past times. Same with maps. They have no idea where Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, and other battlefields.

Why did you want to specifically tell the story of those involved in the Confederacy?

Maryland is a border state. Many Marylanders chose the South. Thad was naive and influenced by his introduction to new adventure. The Confederacy has always had a mystique as the rebellious underdog going against City Hall.

What type of lesson do you hope readers, particularly young readers, will learn from this book?

That war is terrible. It is not romantic, not full of glory. It is mean and nasty, but in our case necessary.

At the end of the book you include educational material on black soldiers in the Civil War. What do you hope including this will teach others?

That African-Americans were ready and willing to pitch in and help in the fight for their freedom. They did, by the thousands.

After 40 years as a communications systems engineer with the federal government, you retired as director of engineering, Radio Free Europe, in Munich, Germany. How was the transition from your work to writing a children's book?

Easy. I've been a student of the Civil War for 50 years, and active in writing and re-enacting for a long time.

The dedication reads to your brother, Tom Law. Tell us about him and why you chose to dedicate this book to him.

Tom was a Civil War drummer par excellence. He made and sold drums of superior quality. He restored original Civil War drums. He critiqued my manuscript for accuracy. Tom passed away July 18, 2012.

Is your book available in bookstores in our area? Where? If not, how can a reader buy a copy of the book?

Can be purchased directly from the publisher or directly from me (save shipping and handling). I will hand deliver or they can be picked up at my home: 10945 Hartle Drive, Hagerstown. Call 301-824-7103.

— By Crystal Schelle, Lifestyle editor

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