Thursday, December 23, 2010

World War II: Fighting For Freedom

Fighting For Freedom
by Peter Chrisp
Scholastic Reference, 2010. 64 pages. Nonfiction.

Peter Chrisp has created an absorbing and informative book that will appeal to even reluctant readers. The pages looks like they have come out of a war scrapbook and have a 3-D feel, with barbed wire on the corners holding the pages in. A date and an event are stamped on the top of each two-page spread, and then through photos, quotes, maps, diagrams and explanatory paragraphs, Chrisp lays out the facts of the event listed. The maps and diagrams are clear and easy to follow, and the photographs (most from the Imperial War Museum) are outstanding. I was amazed to see Finnish troops skiing in their battle against the Soviets--it makes sense, but I hadn't thought about it before. Chrisp's commentary was also fascinating--one example was on the page of the Battle for the Atlantic. Chrisp explains that wolf packs were large groups of German U-boats (submarines) that attacked allied convoys. They waited until night, when they could surface and move faster. A wolf pack might follow a convoy for several nights, attacking repeatedly. "Each sailor dreaded nightfall, wondering if his ship would survive until dawn." During the Battle of the Atlantic, U-boats sank 2,603 ships and over 30,000 Allied sailors lost their lives in the cold sea. Another interesting fact from the page on Home Front: Allies--by 1945 in Russia, nearly one million women had joined the army, fighting as snipers, machine gunners, tank drivers, and pilots.

I highly recommend this book who would like to learn more about this devastating war. It is an overview and does not go into great depth, but it might encourage deeper research into one or more of the people, places or events covered. There is also an index and glossary at the end of the book.

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