My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam Is Dead
My Brother Sam is Dead  
My Brother Sam Is Dead cover.jpg
Author(s) James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Historical fiction
Publisher Scholastic
Publication date 1974
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 216 pg
ISBN ISBN 0-590-42792-x
OCLC Number 20572784

My Brother Sam Is Dead (1974) is a young adult historical fiction novel by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. The book realistically depicts what happened in the American Revolution. It is a Newbery Honor book that was also named a ALA Notable Children's Book and nominated for a National Book Award in 1975.

The ALA reports that My Brother Sam is Dead was the twelfth most frequently challenged book in the period from 1990 to 2000,[1] and the 27th most challenged book from 2000 to 2009. [2].

Plot summary

Tim Meeker is a young man who lives in the town of Redding, Connecticut around the time the American Revolution begins. Tim does not exactly care about politics, but his father, Life, is a loyalist to Great Britain, much like the rest of the town. His entire family welcomes his brave and high-strung teenage brother, Sam, when he returns from Yale. However, his father is outraged when he learns that Sam has joined the Continental Army to fight against the British.

Unlike Tim, Sam is not afraid to voice his opinions, and this causes him to be forced out from the family tavern. After this, Sam steals his father's Brown Bess to use as a weapon during battles. Sam leaves Redding to fight, and things become harder, gradually separating the family. Sam occasionally returns, although when this happens, Tim is the only one who talks with him. In one instance, Tim delivers a "business letter" to New York for a "moderate" neighbor named Mr. Heron, against his father's wishes, since he does not trust Heron. Betsy Read, Tim and Sam's friend opens the letter, only to find it is a "test note" that says: If you receive this message, then the messenger is reliable, meaning that the future letters will be spy reports on soldiers. Tim throws away the note.

Meanwhile, prices of food and drinks go up and the redcoats even show up in Redding to take weapons and fight the few Patriots there. After seeing the bloody battle, in which Tim's friends, an innocent slave named Ned is decapitated, and an innocent child named Jerry Stanford is captured by the British, Tim begins to have stronger feelings about the patriots. While on a trip with his father to sell beef to loyalists in New York, they are stopped by a band of cowboys who presumably abduct him. Tim goes home, and the next year they find his father, Eliphalet, has died on a prison ship due to an outbreak of cholera. After this, Tim's mother, Susannah begins to drink heavily. Sam returns, only to reveal he has been framed for stealing cattle and he is going to be executed by his own army in a warning to soldiers who may do the same thing if faced by extreme hunger. The story then cuts to 1826, where Tim reveals he has survived the Revolution, and that he has written the entire story to tell what life was like in the war. He expresses his condolences about Sam, and then reveals he has a happy life.


  • Sam Meeker: A high strung teenager who joins the Continental Army to fight for his principles against his family's favor, Sam is executed by his own army for stealing his own family's cattle, which he didn't really do.
  • Tim Meeker: Sam's brother and the narrator of the story. Although younger than Sam, Tim frequently comes across as more mature and responsible. Faces difficulty choosing between his father's ideas and Sam's. Tim is also afraid to voice his own opinions.
  • Eliphalet "Life" Meeker (also called Father and Mr. Meeker): Tim and Sam's father, Life is a Loyalist, or Tory. During a trip to sell beef, he is captured by the Rebels, because they believe he's selling beef to the British. He ends up dying on a British prison ship from an outbreak of cholera.
  • Susannah Meeker (Also called Mother and Mrs. Meeker): Tim and Sam's mother (who is very religious and hardworking.) She takes over running the tavern and starts to drink heavily after Life dies.
  • Betsy Read: A young woman who belongs to a Patriot family.
  • General Putnam: Commander of the Continental Army that stays in Redding. General Putnam sentences Sam to death.
  • Dr. Hobart: Redding's only doctor.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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