The first book I read for my reading log was Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. This book takes place during the Civil War, and revolves around a young boy from Kansas by the name of Jefferson David Bussey. Having been born in Kansas, Jeffs loyalty obviously lies with the Union. One day, his house is attacked by bushwackers from Missouri, gangs of Confederates that raid peoples houses, and Jeff is injured. The next day, Jeff says he has had enough with those blasted bushwackers and goes to enlist in Fort Leavenworth, a place where volunteers can sign up to join the Union Army. As Jeff goes to Fort Leavenworth, he encounters a couple of friends, and they decide to join him to enlist. On the first day of training, Jeff makes a fool of himself by responding to a captains order to fix bayonets with Yes, sir, but mine isnt broken, sir. At once, Jeff is the captains most hated for unknowingly making a dumb joke and getting the captain laughed at. As Jeff continues to mature in the army, he experiences many things such as falling in love, fighting in his first battle, being a shooter on the firing squad, and becoming a spy. The story ends with Jeff fleeing the Confederate camp after procuring some very important information as a spy. He is chased by an entire cavalry regiment and is found by their bloodhound. However, Jeff tempts the bloodhound with a piece of meat and takes it with him. When Jeff returns to the Union, he is promoted to sergeant. The war soon ends and Jeff goes home to live with his family.
This book has helped me in a couple of ways. First, as I was reading, I began to think about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Imagining Jeff growing up and then deciding to join the army made me think about my own life. What would I want to be when I grew up? What would I want to spend my adulthood doing? Reading this book set off a light bulb in my head; I had to choose what my future would be and I and I alone would be the one to choose it. Being the child of the typical Asian parents, the future I had always thought of was the usual-a 4.0 or higher GPA and a scholarship to a top ranked college. However, I realized I could be anything I wanted, as long as I put my heart into it. This also helped me realize that I control my own destiny. Another way this book helped me was on history. When I was young, I was taught that the Union was the good guys and the Confederates were the bad guys. After reading this book, my views were completely altered. There were both good and bad people on both sides contrary to popular beliefs in history textbooks. I also learned that the South was hurt the most after the war ended. This was completely wrong. The Native Americans were the ones affected the most. In the ensuing peace treaty between the North and the South, the South gave almost all of the Native Americans lands to the North.
I am like the main character Jeff in one particular way. We are both reckless and yearn for adventure. Like I do many times, Jeff acted in certain tight situations without thinking. Whether this it was because he was nervous, or he did not know how to act, he still did reckless things without considering the result. This is just like me when I am in a tight spot; I do whatever first comes to mind. Jeff and I are both adventure lovers and will do anything for adventure. Despite having different forms of adventure now and then, we both enjoy our ideas of adventure and will jump at the chance to have fun any time. I am also like Noah, Jeffs friend. We both have trouble adjusting to something new, but when we do adjust, we master it. For example, Noah was really bad at horseback, and after he practiced with himself over and over again, he got the hang of it. When it was time for battle, he rode as well as the lieutenant that trained them. An example of me adjusting would be about my chess career. When I was young, I used to play Chinese chess with my dad. Then my dad wanted me to play international chess. At first, I had difficulty adjusting to the different pieces, but now, I am nearly a master in chess and the best in the school. I really enjoyed this book and I gained a lot of information from it.