The problem is that the book represents itself as a factual account of an actual bird's life, yet it is poorly researched and full of inaccuracies. Or maybe it was meticulously researched and the reader just doesn't know this because there are no references. And maybe the inaccuracies aren't inaccurate at all, but again--no documented sources to back anything up. Do you see my problem?
I was originally intrigued by this book because of its historical context. I also like eagles and am always interested in the stories behind symbols. This book tells the story of Old Abe (who according to Wikipedia was actually a female, although I have not found confirmation of this anywhere else) an eaglet who was found (captured? let's not be euphemistic) by a Native American chief in the Northwoods of Wisconsin in 1861. The eaglet is traded to a man named Dan McCann who eventually sends the eagle off to war in his place. An explanation is offered as to why he does this (he cannot fight himself, and the bird has shown remarkable intelligence,) but that is really immaterial to the heart of the book--Old Abe's heroic exploits with the 8th Regiment of Wisconsin. Old Abe is involved in several major Civil War battles and serves not only as a mascot, but as a spy and is even credited with dragging a wounded soldier to safety. After the war Old Abe goes to live in the Wisconsin State Building as a war hero. A two room apartment is built specially for the bird, where he resides, when he isn't making guest appearances at special events such as the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1876 and a fund raiser to preserve the Old South Church in Boston.
|Old Abe him/herself|
At which point the book abruptly ends. Which is extremely unfortunate! Because this abrupt ending makes the reader aware of several flaws with the book. The most glaring is the aforementioned lack of source material used to research and write the book. Secondly, an author's note at the end, while providing much commentary about the plight of bald eagles in the United States, fails to provide any further information about Old Abe or help to clarify what part of the story is bona fide fact and what is poetic license.
|101st Airborne Division|
Thank you to Kane/Miller for providing me a copy of the book to review.