Night of the Cossack – historical fiction for teens

Night of the Cossack - historical fiction for teens.

Middle school and high school students searching for adventure or interested in Russian history will enjoy Night of the Cossack by Tom Blubaugh. The Cossacks dwelled in the northern hinterlands of the Black and Caspian seas. They received privileges from the Russian government in return for military services. Blubaugh’s grandfather had been a Russian Cossack soldier in the Ukraine before he came to America in 1910.

In this story, Nathan Hertzfield is a 16-year-old Russian Jew who lives with his mother and younger brother. When the Cossacks attack his village, they take him prisoner. If he attempts to escape, the soldiers will harm his mother, so he stays and becomes a Cossack soldier himself. Nikolai takes Nathan under his wing and gives him a new name: Stepan Ivanov. The young Jewish man must also pretend to be Christian. Stepan quickly earns the respect of the other Cossacks due to his skill in shooting and hunting.

In time, the Cossacks were drafted into the Russian army where they were supposed to fight and kill Jews. Stepan is torn; he does not want to fight against his own people. When he is double-crossed by an old friend, Stepan is forced to run away to save his life, a journey which brings him into even greater danger as a hunted man.

Blubaugh has included a literature-based curriculum guide and lesson plan. The goals of that plan are to help develop vocabulary, solve problems, study Newton’s three laws, identify examples of responsible citizenship, and support a point of view on social studies issues. Whether you choose to utilize all, some, or none of the questions, Night of the Cossack is an interesting work of historical fiction which raises moral questions that can provide fodder for meaningful discussions.

Author: Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur, editor of "Today's Catholic Homeschooling", is the mother of two biological sons and one adopted daughter. She is in her fifteenth year of homeschooling. She has a B.A. in History and Fine Art and a Master's Degree in Applied Theology. She is the author of "The Crash Course Guide to Catholic Homeschooling" and "The Fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary". She blogs at