Monday, May 25, 2015

50 Things You Should Know about the First World War - Jim Eldridge

Summary:  The story of the War, brought to life through illustrations, photographs, diaries, and newspaper reports.

In this illustrated exploration of World War I, readers discover what caused the war and why it eventually affected every corner of the globe.

The key battles, events, and figures are all explored and recounted in succinct and easy-to understand text while illustrations and photographs bring the past vividly back to life. (Summary and image from  I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

Review:  I can think of  no better time to review this book than today, Memorial Day.  I know that history is taught differently from state to state, but I remember very little about World War I in my U.S. and World History classes.  I was taught the basics, what ignited the war, who fought whom, why, and who won, but it felt like all we learned was just to set the stage for World War II.

I feel like with the successes of series like Maisie Dobbs and Downton Abbey, visibility and recognition of the First World War is increasing.  At least mine is.  This was the War to End All Wars, it was in memory of the men, women, and children who lost their lives (and those who have since sacrificed so much) that we celebrate Memorial Day and other nations celebrate Remembrance Day on different dates.  How can I allow my kids to just hear the basics, (an assassination, land grabs, Lusitania, the end) and move on?

Eldridge has done an incredible job collecting, designing, and presenting fifty facts (definitely more, but fifty key points) for children.  The layout is incredible -- the background to most of the pages are photographs of the events discussed, but then each page is organized like an infographic.  Timelines of each year of the war are interspersed.  The facts are laid out chronologically within this layout, which was so helpful.  With two children  obsessed with nonfiction books (thank you, National Geographic Kids!) Ive noticed that the infographic is a layout that draws kids in.  Eldridge's relaying of the facts is succinct, but detailed enough that I learned so much more than I had in school.  

A secondary benefit of the book is that Eldridge is British.  I found it fascinating learning about the War from that perspective, since America entered the war near the end.  Not only did it impart a different perspective, important dates and events that are often overlooked in America were given more prominence.

This is one of those books that has become a treasured book almost instantly.  I appreciate the humanity it imparted the history.  I honor the work that went into it, and it greatly increased my gratitude for those who sacrificed so much.

Rating:  Five Stars

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