HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Profiles of Valor: Character Studies from the War of Independence
Authors: Marilyn Boyer and Grace Tumas
Publisher: The Learning Parent, 2013
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Suitable for everyone
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Boyer, Marilyn; and Tumas, Grace. Profiles of Valor: Character Studies from the War of Independence (published in 2013 by The Learning Parent, 2430 Sunnymeade Rd., Rustburg, VA 24588). Co-author Marilyn Boyer is a homeschooling mom of over 34 years with fourteen children, all homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. I first heard Rick and Marilyn Boyer at a 1997 Ohio homeschool conference and then saw them again at a 2004 Missouri homeschool conference. Through the years, I have had occasional contact with them about various homeschool-related matters. They are the founders of The Learning Parent which produces Character Concepts, a Bible-based character curriculum with resources from preschool through high school. The first volume of their character-based history series for family reading is Portraits of Integrity: Real People Who Demonstrated Godly Character. In explaining the background for this second volume, Marilyn writes, “In doing my research for For You They Signed, a book about the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, I discovered so many compelling stories about people other than the signers during this time of our history, that I felt I just must write another book to share their stories with you.”
Profiles of Valor consists of forty true stories about fascinating characters, both men and women, and events from America’s War of Independence and the early days of our nation, arranged roughly in chronological order. Some of them are quite famous—George Washington, Sam Adams, John Adams, James Madison, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson. However, others are rather unsung. Several women are included, such as Martha Washington, Nancy Strong who sent messages by the petticoats she hung on the line, and Emily Geiger, girl spy. Also, there a number of African-Americans like Wentworth Cheswell, Peter Salem, James Armistead, and Jordan Freeman. And don’t forget ministers Jonathan Mayhew, Jacob Duche, Lemuel Haynes, John Witherspoon, and James Caldwell, the ‘fighting chaplain,” as well as the Jewish financier Haym Solomon. Children will be both entertained and challenged by these stories of heroes from the past. I see three benefits from this book, the first of which is simply the historical information. In fact, if I had to pick one book about the Revolutionary War, this might be it.
However, beyond that, emphasis is placed on the fact that the attitudes and actions of these individuals were firmly based upon a Judaeo-Christian or Biblical worldview. Boyer points out, “To say we were a Christian nation is not to say everyone living then was a Christian, but that Christian principles formed the basis of our government and influenced the policies society implemented.” There is no attempt to sugarcoat the truth. It is pointed out that “As far as we know, Jefferson never received salvation through faith in Christ,” yet “he was forced to conclude that the real truth was to be found in the words of Jesus, and daily perusing those very words, he strove to become a man of uprightness.” And third, the very underlying purpose of the authors, kids will be encouraged to strive for the character qualities which these accounts of greatness illustrate. The last chapter is about Alexis de Tocqueville, who said, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” As a nation, we need to be asking ourselves the question, is America truly good today?