It”s 1787 and 14-year-old Justin Conkey is about to make up for the fact that he was too young to fight in the Revolution of 1776. Shay”s Rebellion is the new war, and he is determined to be part of it, even if he only has his father”s old sword for protection. He longs to be a hero, like his unpredictable, heroic brother-in-law, Peter McColloch, but Peter feels Justin isn”t old enough to fight. Finally, in a dramatic scene involving Justin”s sister, Molly, Peter allows Justin to join the regiment, although once Justin is actually on the battlefield fighting against Lincoln”s army, war is not at all what he expected. Everywhere he turns he faces danger and confusion, and his own growing fear.
In a note at the end of their story, brothers James and Christopher Collier explain just how much of their novel is fiction and how much is history. They acknowledge that historians are often very clever at reconstructing the past, but there are indeed a number of situations and characters in their story that are based on eye-witness accounts. They also admit that while historians don”t really know exactly how people of Justin”s time spoke, they wrote their story in contemporary English so it would be easier for readers to understand. The authors of My Brother Sam Is Dead have written an informative and entertaining story of war that provides an important lesson on the value of government and the responsibility of citizens to see that their rights are fairly represented.