Title: The Stolen TrainThe-Stolen-Train
Author: Robert Ashley
Pages: 152
Recommended Ages: 10 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★

Another beat-up, out-dated Scholastic that turned out to be excellent…

The Story.

He knows he’s risking his life, Johnnie does. But it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he, a fifteen year old lad was chosen to be a member of the sabotage team organized by James J. Andrews, Union spy agent.

Here’s the plan – while Andrews and his team makes it down to Marietta, Georgia, General Mitchel will prepare to assail Huntsville. Then, all in one blow, Mitchel will strike, and the Andrews’ gang will steal a mail train and man it north, clipping telegraph wires, derailing the tracks, and burning down bridges all the way to Chattanooga, Tennessee. If they are successful, the war will be shortened by months. If they are captured, they may be hung as spies.

Will Johnnie and the rest of the men be captured? Will they successfully carry out their mission?


I really appreciated the way this story was told. Instead of being a rant or a soap box speech, it was simply an adventure story. There was no “the Confederacy is so evil / amazing because of this that and the other” or “the Union is so wonderful / horrible for this reason”. It was simply a record – a group of men on a mission who are determined to achieve it because it is their mission. Because of this, I was able to enjoy the story without having to weed through a bunch of name-calling from either side.

At the end of the story, Johnnie meets Abraham Lincoln, who is portrayed as a kindly, agreeable man, which – if one reads records from the time – is completely true insofar as how he treated his troops.

War related lies are told.

Conclusion. A solid adventure story which will thrill all children, but especially those who love war stories.

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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