My Brother Sam Is Dead': Book Report

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The novel My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James and Christopher Collier follows the life of a young boy named Tim Meeker, who is living during the Revolutionary War. His older brother Sam joins the Connecticut militia to fight with the Patriots. His father is extremely opposed to all war because of the death and destruction. Throughout the novel, readers gain an understanding of the horrors of war through the eyes of Tim as he loses both his father and his brother as well as close neighbors.

In My Brother, Sam is Dead, first and foremost death is rampant. Father had died on a prison boat in New York. The text states, “He’d been dead for a month. It had happened pretty much as we’d guessed it: he’d been sent to a prison ship in New York” (164). They also put Jerry on a prison ship and he died in three weeks sunk his body was in Long Island Sound in a weighted sack. The text says, “ Nobody understands it. They put him on a prison ship and he got sick and died in the next three weeks”(166). A group of soldiers executes Sam from so close his clothes catch on fire and he eventually dies. The author writes, “He went on jerking with flames on his chest until another soldier shot him again. Then he stopped jerking.”(208).

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Another result of the war shown in My Brother Sam Is Dead is the immorality of men. The cowboys showed this immorality by being violent to their fathers in attempting to steal their supplies. In the book, it says, “Then I saw the man who had been doing all the talking lean down from the horse and hit father with something- the barrel of a pistol I guessed”(96). Another result of immorality is people stealing cattle. The story explains, “Two cows were standing in front of the barn blinking, and we could see two more behind. We dashed into the barn. Four of the cows were gone. “Jesus damn,” I shouted”(180). One more example of immorality is the soldiers lying about Sam Meeker to avoid being hung. The book states, “Those soldiers Sam caught with the cattle are scared to death Putnam will simply hang them all as an example. They’re prepared to tell any kind of lie about Sam to get themselves off”(188).

Within My Brother, Sam Is Dead the author demonstrates how truly brutal war can get. The continentals demonstrated this by slashing fathers face for not believing that he didn’t have their brown beds. For example, it says, “We darted across the barnyard and into the kitchen, and all of a sudden there was father standing there, the line of blood drying on his face”(60). The British showed brutality by cutting off Ned’s head for rebelling against the king. For example, it states, “Ned’s head jumped off his body and popped into the air. I never saw it fall. I dropped down behind the stone wall and vomited all over myself”(145). Another example of brutality is they put a bag over Sam’s head and shot him. In the book, it states, “Three soldiers stepped in front of him and raised their muskets. I heard myself scream, “Don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him,” and at that moment Sam slammed backward as if he’d been knocked over by a mallet”(208).

All in all, My Brother Sam Is Dead expresses the horrors of the war including death, immorality, and brutality. It demonstrates to Americans that the American Revolution was not a glorious celebration of freedom. This book explains how all different types of people were affected during the American Revolutionary War. It is an important part of history that we will never forget.

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My Brother Sam Is Dead’: Book Report. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 19, 2024, from
“My Brother Sam Is Dead’: Book Report.” Edubirdie, 21 Apr. 2023,
My Brother Sam Is Dead’: Book Report. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Jul. 2024].
My Brother Sam Is Dead’: Book Report [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Apr 21 [cited 2024 Jul 19]. Available from:

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