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  • Writer's pictureCate Jen

When Will This Cruel War Be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

For the third book in our series, we covered: When Will This Cruel War be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson. The book takes place in 1864 in Gordonsville, Virginia, and the book was written by Barry Denenberg and published in 1997.

book cover: When Will This Cruel War Be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson, Dear America

Emma is the oldest protagonist so far at 14. She is an affluent white girl living on her family's plantation. Through her, we get the southern perspective on the Civil War where the Union soldiers are the bad guys and her father, brother, and sweetheart have enlisted in the Confederate cause to protect their land from the northern invaders. Oh, and they have a bunch of "servants" ...that are forced to work for free because of the color of their skin.


In Part 1 of our discussion of this book you can hear our thoughts on choosing to write this perspective as well as some recommendations for a more thorough understanding of the Civil War.



In Part 2 we finish up our recap of Emma's story. Listen, this was a hard one to get through. We had a lot of thoughts about how this kind of story should be written and even whether it should be told in the first place.


It is definitely an ambitious project to try to get into the perspective of what we would consider the "wrong side" of history. And this book does present a great opportunity to teach children about critical analysis and recognizing bias. But those lessons will only be learned with a guiding hand from parents or teachers.


Tune in to hear more:



And if you want to learn even more about the Civil War, there are a ton of great resources. Below are a few of the resources we mentioned in the show:





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