Compassion: The Story of Clara Barton (Value Biographies) Library Binding – 1 Aug 1997
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When the war began in 1861 Clara Barton was a clerk in the Patent Office at Washington. She started out collecting and distributing brandy, tobacco, lemons, soaps, sewing kits, and homemade jellies to the troops from her native Massachusetts. She was only five feet tall and she was unmarried at the time, which made the nursing work she did during the war an "unnatural" occupation for a woman, but she declared, "while our soldiers stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them." In the bloody aftermath of the First Battle of Bull Run Barton realized that much more was needed and she declared her place was "anywhere between the bullet and the battlefield."
"Compassion: The Story of Clara Barton" by Deborah Woodworth gives evidence of much more than the titular quality. The Barton story begins with Clara's First Patient, her brother David, whom she nursed for two years after falling from a barn roof. She opened up a public school for poor children, exhibiting all of the qualities she would evidence during the Civil War when she insisted on going to the front lines to help. After detailing the fine work she did during that war Woodworth goes on to cover the tour of Europe she took where she found out abut the Red Cross and then her efforts to create the American Red Cross when she returned.
This book is illustrated by Leon Baxter and the part I like the best is how Woodworth provides commentary on Barton's life and quotations from the woman herself. In the back of the book there is a Study Guide that focuses not on the facts of her life but the lessons that can be learned from her achievements and her setbacks. The first question asks what qualities we think are important and the list that is provided are all positive qualities (e.g., kindness, courage, perseverance) and then follows up by asking which qualities were most important to Clara Barton. Woodworth even provides the answers to the Study Guide questions (how many books do not?), although there is not a strict notion of what would be "correct." You will also find a nice photograph of Barton on the last page.
As you might suspect, "Compassion: The Story of Clara Barton" is one of a series of similar volumes that use the biographies of famous people, mostly Americans, to emphasize an important value. Other books include: "A Life of Love: The Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning," "Forgiveness: The Story of Mahatma Gandhi," "Perseverance: The Story of Thomas Alva Edison," "Bravery: The Story of Sitting Bull," "Curiosity: The Story of Marie Curie," and "Dreams: The Story of Martin Luther King." When you look over this list note that only one of the subjects is one of those Dead White Males that are currently the bane of the study of history.