Daugherty’s Ten Brave Men is a well-executed exercise in mythologizing designed to instill or reinforce the values associated with combinations of strong character and idealism in young readers. Her prose and her husband’s dramatic illustrations create an atmosphere of historical verisimilitude in each chapter, and the level of interest throughout has been kept high. These are among the reasons that the author’s works have won praise or have been considered for children’s writers awards and for school use.
Weighed narrowly in terms of historical accuracy, however, the treatment of Daugherty’s ten subjects leaves much to be desired. Adams, for example, did not instigate the Boston Tea Party, was not one of the Sons of Liberty, and in fact was later than most of his leading contemporaries in seeking a break between the Colonies and Great Britain. Lincoln’s overriding wartime objective was the preservation of the Union: His Emancipation Proclamation came only after pressure from Northern abolitionists made his reelection dubious, and it freed very few slaves because most of them lived within the still-undefeated Confederacy. Each chapter is subject to similar critiques of its accuracy. Therefore, it is more important to recognize that Daugherty tells a fine tale and informs her readers in other ways.