REVIEW: Historic Communities – Fort Life (1994)

A book by Bobbie Kalman, David Schimpky

One of the many pick-ups I grabbed in the gift shop of Fort Osage in Sibley, Missouri was this Children’s book about what it was like to live in an Eighteenth Century fort. I say “Children’s” , but honestly this is a pretty decent little history book despite the size, and almost is akin to Osprey Military books, that are basically large monographic pamphlets. This is a great item from that particular historic site, largely because the area I’m in doesn’t have a lot of War of 1812 era things aside from Fort Osage and perhaps a bit in St. Louis, so getting a feel for what life was like back then is probably something most people are unaware of. Hell, most people have no idea what that war even was! I may have to seek more of these books out out, as apparently Bobbie Kalman is a very prolific writer in this area, with two acclaimed series about pioneer life, The Early Settler Life Series (15 titles) and The Historic Communities Series (31 titles), both published by Crabtree Publishing.

“Coveted for their strategic military locations, forts often changed hands many times. Forts played a vital role in the settlement of the New World and were a means of refuge for soldiers and settlers. The difficult life of the soldier is detailed from the harsh living conditions to the primitive medical care they received. Children will enjoy reading about:* the different types of fort, including the fur fort and the military fort* the day-to-day lives of the community of men, women, and children who lived there* the businesses that sprang up in a fort* the “war of the forts” between Fort Niagara and Fort George.”

While the photographs in this book were taken in numerous east coast forts such as Fort Niagara and Fort George, the information still stands for the majority of what fort life would have been like back then. The only real thing missing was the fact that Missouri had to deal with trading goods between the French and Natives on top of everything else, rather than being predominantly a military fortress. This is a fun quick read and something young history fans should enjoy a lot. There are tons of photographs and quite a bit of information for such a small book.

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