Monday, February 21, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The War to End All Wars

The War to End All Wars: World War IThe War to End All Wars: World War I Russell Freedman

Ok, so, no surprise that Freedman has once again written an outstanding book for tweens. Not only is it wonderfully written, but it's beautifully designed and makes a great use of visual materials, such as photographs.

But all of that was a pretty safe assumption to make before even looking at the book. That's what Freedman's known for.

What we have here is a solid introduction to WWI-- it's causes, how it went, American involvement, and how it ended. I most appreciated the last chapter-- "Losing the Peace" which explores how the harsh terms imposed on Germany and the failure of the League of Nations directly led to WWII.

Freedman makes excellent use of first-hand accounts, letters, diaries, and field orders to really paint what conditions were like in the trenches.

The book mostly focuses on the Western front, but does discuss the Eastern front briefly in the beginning of the war and what led to the Central Powers/Russian peace, both in terms of the war and the revolution. It also covers the Italian front, which doesn't get a lot of coverage! It mentions that Japan declared war on Germany, but doesn't go into what that meant in practical terms. In the last chapter, it would have been an interesting note to include the ramifications of giving Germany's concessions in China to Japan instead of returning them to the Chinese and how that effected the Pacific theater in WWII. I would also have liked a little more information on how soldiers from European colonies were used and a more than a mention of the fact that German colonies were also attacked.

But... that's me nitpicking. I already know a decent amount about WWI and have a special interest in early 20th century Chinese politics and modern colonial issues.  I did really appreciate the coverage that was given to the African-American regiments when the US joined the war. I didn't know that they fought with and were equipped by the French.

Even though I knew most of what this book covers (although I didn't realize that the anti-German sentiment of WWI is what made the royal family change their name to Windsor) it was still an engrossing read.

A word of caution-- there are a lot of battlefield photos in this book. They are stunning and used for maximum effect in an excellently designed package. BUT, battlefield photos means dead bodies. It's not gruesome, but I'm sure some people would like the heads up.

Round up is over at Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian (what a great blog name!)

Book Provided by... my local library

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