Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers

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In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard left his farm and enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was fifteen. He didn't rightly know what a "shooting war" meant, or what he was fighting for. All he knew was that he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure.

The shooting war meant the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival. It meant knowing ...
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Soldier's Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers

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Overview

In June 1861, when the Civil War began, Charley Goddard left his farm and enlisted in the First Minnesota Volunteers. He was fifteen. He didn't rightly know what a "shooting war" meant, or what he was fighting for. All he knew was that he didn't want to miss out on a great adventure.

The shooting war meant the horror of combat and the wild luck of survival. It meant knowing how it feels to cross a field toward the enemy, waiting for fire. Waiting for death. And Charley learned 'This is how it's done."

When he entered the service he was a boy. When he came back he was different. He was only nineteen, but he was a man said to have a soldier's heart.

Battle by battle, Gary Paulsen shows one boy's war through one boy's eyes and one boy's heart, and gives a voice to all the anonymous young men who fought in the Civil War. Listeners will finish this audiobook and know, this is how it's done.

Eager to enlist, fifteen-year-old Charley has a change of heart after experiencing both the physical horrors and mental anguish of Civil War combat.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Bookseller ReviewsLittle Charley Goddard was a soldier with a secret. This diminutive, grim-faced Minnesota volunteer was underage; only fifteen; seduced by the sound of drums and songs and slogan to march off to a war he couldn't imagine. An electrifying and sobering Civil War novel.
Martha Davis Beck
Paulsen doesn't address the issues that bring men to war; he is interested in describing what war is. In our age of missiles, which can make war seem more remote and its effects less palplable, a novel like Soldier's Heart may be an important one for young adults to read&#151and to remember.
— Riverbank Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the author interview at the beginning of this recording, listeners will be caught up in Paulsen's storytelling. His wrenching look at the brutal Civil War (based on one boy's real-life experiences) comes to life via Wendt's (Cheers) robust bass voice. As a patriotic and eager 15-year-old, Charley Goddard lies about his age to join the First Minnesota Volunteers in 1861. He never imagines that taking part in the "shooting war" means watching thousands of men be killed and wounded and seeing many others suffer from dysentery and other diseases. From Bull Run to Gettysburg, listeners march with Charley to the front lines, getting a better picture of just how awful battle can be. Though Charley survives the war with only relatively minor physical injuries, his mind and soul are forever changed--he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder, then called soldier's heart. He dies, feeling much older than his years, at 23. Wendt provides some tender moments as Charley deals with horrific conditions, and he skillfully avoids melodrama in a generally straightforward reading. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA - Helen Turner
Charley Goddard boosts his age from fifteen to eighteen, enlists to serve with the First Minnesota Volunteers in the Civil War, and in battles from Bull Run to Gettysburg learns that war is not adventure but grinding horror. Post traumatic stress disorder, shell shock, and battle fatigue are newer, more clinical terms for Charley's "soldier's heart," a malady shared with other survivors of the madness, stench, heroism, and weariness of war. Readers watch Charley as he endures the monotony of waiting; expends fruitless efforts to keep himself, his food, and his weapon clean and dry; retreats into himself as a defense against the agony of losing friends; and is seriously wounded at Gettysburg. A "good" soldier in battle, no better or worse than others, Charley believes he has no control over his own life or death. Every part of soldiering--camp life, food, relationships, killing, and questioning--comes alive as Charley survives and grows old far too quickly. In the compelling final chapter Charley remembers what he wants to remember; "pretty things," he calls them: dew on a leaf, pretty girls, a black and shining Confederate revolver. The real Charley Goddard volunteered, trained, and fought with the First Minnesota and was wounded at Gettysburg. He returned to Minnesota but died within a few years from his Gettysburg wounds and soldier's heart. This is a spare and lucid document of war and of one of its memorable participants, child-man Charley Goddard. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
KLIATT
To quote from KLIATT's July 1998 review of the hardcover edition: "Soldier's heart" is another euphemism for the horrible effects of war on a soldier—we've also heard of shell shock, battle fatigue, and post-traumatic stress disorder, all terms used to describe the indescribable from later wars. Charlie is from an isolated farm in Minnesota, who at 15 has little understanding of why the Civil War is being fought, or about the wider world. He wants experience, adventure, and to prove himself a man, so he enlists, lying about his age. The details of what follows for Charlie are sparse, but powerful. He takes part in several crucial battles and endures months of camp life until Gettysburg, where multiple wounds nearly kill him. This brief book gets to the reality of brutal warfare quickly. It delivers an emotional impact that even reluctant readers will experience, and so would be a good book to choose for such students in history or social studies classes. (Editor's note: This book is an ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998, Random House/Dell/Laurel-Leaf, 106p, map, bibliog, 18cm, $5.50. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-"Nothing about war is good," says author Gary Paulsen in the interview that opens this recording of Soldier's Heart Delacorte, 1998. This short novel is an honest look at the actual Civil War experiences of Charley Goddard, a 15-year-old who served in the Union Army. Without sentimentality, Paulsen presents all the elements of 19th century warfare, from the boredom to the brutality. The story chronicles the adolescent's transition from an eager youth to a dissipated young man. Charley survives several major battles, but he goes home spiritually and physically crushed, destined to die before his 24th birthday. George Wendt Norm on Cheers provides an unemotional reading of the text. Though it may sound laconic, it does convey the young soldier's internal shutdown as he moves between rage and fear. There is an author's note at the end of the narration that adds more information about Charley and the period. The lightweight cassette box, not like Listening Library's usual audiobook case, is not suitable for circulation. The quality and brevity of this recording make it an excellent supplement to middle and high school classes studying the Civil War. For school and public libraries.-Barbara S. Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Henry Mayer
. . .[A] stark, utterly persuasive novel of combat life in the Civil War. . . -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The nightmare of the Civil War comes to the page in this novel from Paulsen (The Transall Saga), based on the real-life experiences of a young enlistee. Charley Goddard, a hard-working, sweet-tempered Minnesota farm boy, can't wait to sign up when the call comes for men to defend the Union. But the devoted son and brother who looks forward to sending home the $11 a month he earns for his soldiering is not prepared for the inedible food, ill-fitting uniform, or the dysentery he experiences just while training. The passages on the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg are—as they should be—disconcerting, even upsetting, in the unflinching portrayal of the bloodshed and savagery of war. What is truly remarkable is Paulsen's portrayal of Charley, who is transformed from an innocent boy into a seasoned—but not hardened or embittered—soldier. Most haunting of all, more than the fiery skirmishes themselves, is the final picture of Charley, so shaken and drained from the experience that the only peace he can envision lies within suicide. An author's note tells of Charley's true fate; dead at 23 from the psychological and physical ravages of war.
From the Publisher
"A stark, utterly persuasive novel of combat life in the Civil War that may well challenge generations of middle-school readers."—The New York Times

"Paulsen's storytelling is so psychologically true that readers will feel they have lived through Charley's experience."—Publishers Weekly, Starred

"The nightmare of the Civil War comes to the pages in this novel from Paulsen . . . based on the real-life experiences of a young enlistee."—Kirkus Reviews, Pointer

"The novel's spare, simple language and vivid visual images of brutality and death on the battlefield make it accessible and memorable to young people."—Booklist, Starred

Library Journal
First published in 1998, this story of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Charley Goddard is less bearable. Paulsen spares the reader nothing in this first-person account, based on a true story. You can smell the rot and feel Charley's sickness as he experiences the horrors and mental toll of fighting at Bull Run and Gettysburg. While a strong stomach is a requisite, the payoff is some of the most compelling and immediate writing for teens on the subject of war. Charley does return to his home in Minnesota, only to die in his early twenties, a victim of his "soldier's heart."—Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 8/19/10
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553526110
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 4 Cassettes, 1 hr. 35 min.
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.42 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

JUNE 1861

He heard it all, Charley did; heard the drums and songs and slogans and knew what everybody and his rooster was crowing.

There was going to be a shooting war. They were having town meetings and nailing up posters all over Minnesota and the excitement was so high Charley had seen girls faint at the meetings, just faint from the noise and hullabaloo. It was better than a circus. Or what he thought a circus must be like. He'd never seen one. He'd never seen anything but Winona, Minnesota, and the river five miles each way from town.

There would be a shooting war. There were rebels who had violated the law and fired on Fort Sumter and the only thing they'd respect was steel, it was said, and he knew they were right, and the Union was right, and one other thing they said as well—if a man didn't hurry he'd miss it. The only shooting war to come in a man's life and if a man didn't step right along he'd miss the whole thing.

Charley didn't figure to miss it. The only problem was that Charley wasn't rightly a man yet, at least not to the army. He was fifteen and while he worked as a man worked, in the fields all of a day and into night, and looked like a man standing tall and just a bit thin with hands so big they covered a stove lid, he didn't make a beard yet and his voice had only just dropped enough so he could talk with men.

If they knew, he thought, if they knew he was but fifteen they wouldn't take him at all.

But Charley watched and Charley listened and Charley learned.

Minnesota was forming a volunteer regiment to go off and fight. It would have near on a thousand men when it was full, men from Winona andTaylor's Falls and Mankato and as far north as Deerwood and from the capital, St. Paul, as well.

A thousand men. And Charley had learned one thing about an army: One part of an army didn't always know the business of another part. The thousand men in the regiment would be in companies of eighty to a hundred men from each section and it would be hard for a man to know men who weren't from the same area.

Charley couldn't join where they knew him. Somebody would spill the beans and he'd get sent back or used as a runner or drummer boy. He wasn't any boy. He was going to sign to fight as a man and he knew a way to do it.

They would gather at Fort Snelling, up along the Mississippi. All the companies from all the towns would assemble there before they went off to fight.

He'd just take him a walk, Charley would, take a walk by himself until he was at Fort Snelling and there he would lie about his age and sign up as a man and get him a musket and a uniform and go to see what a war was like.

"I won't get into any trouble, Ma," he said, wrapping some bread and cold potatoes and half a roast chicken in some tow cotton. "Plus they'll be paying me. I hear they give eleven dollars a month. I'll send most of it on home to you and Orren." Orren was his younger brother. "You can use the money and I won't be under your feet all the time...."

"You aren't under my feet." She hated it when he talked fast. He always got his way when he talked fast. He'd smile and that cowlick would stand up in the back and he'd talk fast and she couldn't keep him from what he wanted. He was a good boy, as good as they came, but ever since his father, Paul, had been kicked to death by a horse gone mad when a swarm of bees landed on it, Charley only had to smile and talk fast and he got his way. "You haven't ever been under my feet."

"Same as," he said, shaking his head. "I'm always in the way. Best I go off and see what the big fuss is all about."

"You ain't but a boy."

"And I've got to be a man sometime. You've said it more than once yourself. Charley, you said, you've got to be a man. Well, here it is—my chance to be a man. A boy wouldn't go off to earn eleven dollars a month and wear a uniform. Only a man. So I'm going to be a man and do what a man can do."

And he won. She knew he would and he did and he took his bread and cold potatoes and chicken and left home walking down the road for Fort Snelling, and if she had known what was to come of it, if she had known and could tell him what would come of it, she would have fought to drag him back and let the federal government keep their eleven dollars a month.

But she also had heard the songs and the slogans and seen the parades, had been to the meetings, and though it was her son Charley leaving she did not think it would be so bad. Nobody thought it would be so bad. Nobody thought it could be so bad. And all the officers and politicians and newspapers said it would be a month or two, no longer.

It would all be over by fall.


From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 102 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(58)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 102 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2007

    Stellar Book!

    This is one of the few books ive ever read because I don't find reading very fun, but this book was amazing and since I'm very intrested in history this book was easy for me to understand. The author did a great job of showing the setting and didn't use too much or too little dialog. The book kept my attention the whole way through. Even tho the ending was a happy one. It kept me thinking. I deff. recommend this to everyone because its easy to read and gets your attention.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2011

    Mediocre, Too Played Up.

    As an avid reader, I've scarcely ever hated a book. I consider myself to be good at seeing the light in even the dimmest of stories. I read this book because it was on the list for The Assembly of Literature Among Adolescents, an English festival I will be attending come March. I tried very hard to find heart in this novel. The book is played up to be very heartfelt, touching, and emotional; the story of a young boy and the struggle of his heart. However, I saw none of that in the story. I felt that Paulsen wrote in a rather mediocre style, more as a sort of bland documentary of a war already too glamorized in the media. I saw no emotion whatsoever in this utterly forgettable story, a story that, mind you, SHOULD have been quite meaningful. I recommend this book to the most naive of readers, looking for information and simplicity, nothing more. Do not pick up this book if you are looking for an inspiring, well written story that will TRULY illustrate the cruelties of war. This book will not do that for you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Such a good book!!!!!

    This book is soooo good i even did a book report on it. Great book!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    Great book

    This book was awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! will always love it

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    Amazing

    I read this book for school and i loved it by the end. It actually goes by very fast. His facts are accurate too.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2009

    good book

    Soldiers Heart by Gary Paulsen is a historic fiction book. If you are interested in history about the civil war then this is a good book for you. Charley is a 16 year old who wants to join the army, but he needs to be 18 to join. He lies about his age and he knows that his voice is getting deep enough to trick the guards. After he got enlisted he fought in three very brutal battles and bloody battles. He sent the money he earned back home to his mom and his brother.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2007

    Soldiers Heart

    If you like a good book, then this is the book for you. This interesting book is about a 16 year old teenager, Charlie who joins the army. He was supposed to be 18 to join the army, but he knew his voice was getting deep enough to trick the army into thinking he was older. He fights three battles, but regrets ever joining, believe me. He is struggling to survive. He sends money he earns back home to his brother and his mom. He hates the war. I can relate to this story because I play paintball. When I paintball it feels like I am in a war. The paintballs fly past me. In the book, it describes how lead musket balls flew past Charlies and he was terrified. When I play it reminds me of that part in the book. Soldier¿s Heart is a real good book.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    soldiers heart

    Gary Paulsen has a great way of telling a story of a young man named Charley who was in a war in which he had to fight. He saw his officer, lieutenant, fellow soldiers and friends. There was a lack of food for the soldiers. Most food was given to the sick. Charley and the others were usually hungry. At the slight chance that he would be able to eat he would get nauseous. When he had filled his canteen one dark night he found out that there were dead bodies in the stream and that his canteen had a pinkish color in it. Charley has a way of not dying and he is very lucky. Every day he hears bullets and gunshots and people screaming and dying but yet he still has the strength to move on and live through it. Charley has a hard time getting through the hardships and the fact that all of his friends are desperate to get home and are hungry. The doctor of the camp told him to find meat for the sick and injured. The camp had already eaten through the cattle. All that was left were the eleven rebel horses¿ Charley and three other men killed the eleven horses. Charley was sad to do it because he liked horses and grew up with them. They killed and skinned the horses. Charley and the men fed the horse meat to the sick and told them it was cattle. They knew it wasn¿t but ate it anyway. After feeding the sick, Charley and the others set off for battle. He can tell that he is getting close to battle. As Charley rode to battle he discovered that he had gotten a lot better when he tried to figure out how big the battles were. If there were a lot of sounds that meant it was a big battle, a few shots meant that it was small. This battle was big. As the battle continues, Charley thinks he gets shot in the shoulder. It turns out to be another mans blood. After this battle the troops march to Gettysburg. Charley survives the battle of Gettysburg. He was twenty-one and was happy in Minnesota. I would recommend this book to the people who like war stories and historical fiction. Children under the age of thirteen should not read this book because of the gore and violence. Gary Paulsen is a good author and he works are great to read

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    I wish the price wasnt so high!!!!!

    If the book was free, i would be reading it for school on my nook now i have to read the book itself not on my nook

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Review

    Awesome book!!!!!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    English Festival 2011 Book

    This book is one of the 7 required reading books for the English Festival.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Another great boook for boys & girls

    Paulsen's books are great! My sons are dyslexic, these books have been such motivation encouragement my youngest has gone from the lower 5% to the upper 97% in reading in just 1 semester, Thanks Gary!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2007

    A great turn in a view of history!

    Ok, I simply loathe history. It's a subject I can't stand learning or reading about a boring past that has nothing to do with me here. Even though I do get straigh A's in ALL subjects, I can't seem to do much for history. However, this amazing book has put a turn in my view of the civil war. I though the civil war was a boring subject to learn about, but this book is so attractive, I finally understand some part of history! I really wish there were more interesting books explaining history for those who are troubled.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    AWSOME

    i thought this book was incredible! it was very touching i loved it ive read it like 3 times already i was sad when it ended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    Book's Good.....Carry On!

    What would you do if you were fifteen and war broke out? Would you lie about your age and join the army? I wouldn¿t. That is exactly what Charley did in this realistic fiction book, Soldier¿s Heart, by Gary Paulsen. Charley was in a time of extreme racism and prejudice. Charley joined the army to see more of the country and to become a man. Little did he know that this experience would change his life forever. Many of his friends that he made, he lost in the war. . Paulsen writes Soldier¿s Heart based on a true story. Charley actually was a real person. He actually suffered these wounds. The timeline of Charley is true except for some added details. Paulsen hooked me on this masterpiece, I could hardly put it down. It is full of excellent details. I thought I was actually in the Civil War right there next to Charley. I recommend Soldier¿s Heart to anyone who loves to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2003

    awesome book

    Soldiers Heart, a book writen by Gary Paulsen, is about a 15 year old boy named Charley who joins the war because he wants to become a man. Charley fights in many battles. He goes from Winona, Minnesota to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Charley was a changing boy -- in some of the battles he was a good fighter but, in other battles he was a worried boy. My opinion is i thought charley was going to die in all the battles that he got hit with all the bullets.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2003

    What a Book

    The book 'Soldiers Heart' was an ok book . Gary Paulsen made this book an anti war book. He used many good description words. He also used many diferent actions to make you fell like you are there. Charliey was the main character. He lives in Winona, Minnesota. He went away from he small town tp sign up for the army. He was only 15 years old and lied about his age to he can sign up for the war. He signed up because he thought it would make him a man. He went though many mounths of tranning. Then he went to go fight in his first battle. The Rebels killed many of the people in the first battle. They called this battle the Battle of Bull Run. This book makes you fell like you were there. This is a good book by Gary Paulsen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    Text me on

    Frozen result 1. Frenchwoman

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Gltiuo

    Zy b,ub,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    Brittany to Aaron

    If your reading this: im about to end my pain..im about to be happy again..im about to be free..!! I want you to stay strong and move on..it was nothing you did and Kiley knows why..i love you sooo much and i really wanted to see you this summer but it didnt quite work out that way..i cant believe im actually going to end my life but its for the best..i am being completely honest about this..i hope you never forget me because i wont ever forget you..!! Love Britt...!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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