Set during the last year of the American Civil War, Death on the River portrays the grim brutality of war through the eyes of a young soldier. After the older brother he worshipped is killed in battle, young Jake Clay joins the Union Army in the spring of 1864, determined to make his parents proud and honor his brother's death. His dreams of glory vanish, however, when he is wounded and taken prisoner in his first battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia, and confined to the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, where 30,000 soldiers face violence, disease and starvation. Frightened and disillusioned, Jake takes up with Billy Sharp, an unscrupulous opportunist who shows him how to survive, no matter what the cost. By the war's end Jake's sleep is haunted by the ghosts of those who have died so he could live. When the camp is liberated, Jake and Billy head north on the Mississippi riverboat Sultana, overcrowded far beyond its capacity. Unknown to Jake, the fateful journey up river will come closer to killing him than Andersonville did, but it will also provide him with his one chance at redemption.(Age 12 and up)

"This riveting look at the Civil War's horrifying Andersonville prison through the eyes of an 18-year-old inmate has the power to shock and to compel…readers' interest while uncovering exciting history for them. Wilson doesn't shove the history down his readers' throats. He merely writes a tension-filled story packed with appalling events that really happened...This engrossing novel leaves an enduring impression." Kirkus Reviews 

"Illustrates very well that under circumstances like these, there are no easy, 'good' choices, and it avoids casting 'good' and 'bad' around North/South lines...The depiction of the harsh life of a prison camp is accurate and worth a read." CCYAB Book Notes

"John Wilson has crafted a compelling story that seamlessly incorporates a number of key events in American history… This sense of connection with the past that Wilson's story inspires is one of the novel's strongest features. Recommended." CM Magazine
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