nonfiction nuggets…in honor of our veterans

The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, by Stephen E. Ambrose

As a child, World War II seemed somehow like far-off history to  me.  In fact, I was born only 16 short years after it ended.  Sixteen years to a 16-year-old is a lifetime.  To my father, who fought in the war, it was the blink of an eye.  I always loved hearing his stories of his time in the Army Air Force, as it was called then.  Flying gliders into Normandy.  Dropping paratroopers behind enemy lines. 

My Dad, 1945

Eating sweet oranges in Morocco.  Basking in the tumultuous exuberance of a free Holland and Paris.  It is a privilege to honor him today, along with other veterans with their many, varied stories and lives.

Stephen Ambrose’s book The Good Fight  is a fantastic look at World War II suitable for upper-elementary kids through adults.  Ambrose has chosen to highlight many facets of the war, some of which are rarely covered.  Each topic gets one page of narrative, alongside a  magnificent full-page photograph.  These photos are fabulous!  Each two-page spread also includes other, smaller photos and a Quick Facts box highlighting diverse facts and statistics related to the topic.

Here you can read about some of the most famous aspects of WWII, such as D-Day, the Holocaust, Guadalcanal, and the atomic bomb.  You’ll also learn about other fascinating, lesser-known undertakings such as the Aleutian Campaign in Alaska, where ground crews had to chase bears off the runways, the Doolittle raid, when intrepid pilots accomplished what many thought impossible, and the gleeful meeting of the American and Soviet armies at Torgau, Germany, just a few weeks before the German surrender.  The sad story of Japanese internment camps, and the jubilant liberation of Paris; the horrors of casualties and prisoners, and the heroism of soldiers and civilians; numerous, well-drawn maps which help place various campaigns and theaters — so  much is packed into this absorbing 90-page book.

Ambrose does not talk down to his audience, yet he clearly presents a vast amount of information as well as communicating a tone of deep appreciation for those who fought in this incredible world-wide war.  I don’t know of a better kids book on World War II.  Highly recommended.