Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eyewitness: World War II

Eyewitness: World War II

Simon James
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
DK, 2000   ISBN: 978-0789469908

The world was still reeling from the events of WWI when the aggressive National Socialist (Nazi) Party and its charismatic leader, an Austrian called Adolf Hitler, began to make rumbling noises that sounded too warlike for anyone?s comfort. It was in fact directly because of how Germany was treated at the end of World War I that Hitler was able to come to power in the first place. Discouraged, humiliated, and desperately poor, Germans thronged to Hitler?s rallying call for unity against those who had made Germany a crippled country. The treaty signed at Versailles on June 28th 1919 stripped Germany of many of her freedoms and lands. So harsh was it indeed, that it set the stage for the next war that was to tear Europe apart.

At first many leaders, especially the leadership in Britain, tried to "appease" Hitler with promises, agreements, and by letting him take over several areas of Europe unopposed. However, Hitler was not satisfied and after a brief lull in hostilities against his neighbors, Hitler attacked with a speed and ferocity that left Belgium, Holland, and France reeling.

In this highly detailed and yet extremely accessible book, the author tells us about not only the war itself with its battles, fronts, armies, navies, and air forces. The author also takes us into the lives of the common soldiers and into the homes and factories where the women who were left behind did a remarkable job in keeping everything working properly and supporting the troops fighting in far off places.

Packed with fully annotated color and black and white photographs and best of all with pictures of objects from the period, this is a wonderful tool to help a child understand what WWII was like and how high the stakes were for the allies. There is something very powerful about being able to see a picture of a real gas mask, of some of the weapons used, of the tools used by the spies of both sides, and much more. It is in fact rather like going to a museum where one can almost touch the items that were used during the war. These pictures alone do a great deal to bring the war to life, in both its terrors, and in its more human side, a side filled with real people and their stories.