The War to End All Wars: World War I

Overview

Nonfiction master Russell Freedman illuminates for young readers the complex and rarely discussed subject of World War I. The tangled relationships and alliances of many nations, the introduction of modern weaponry, and top-level military decisions that resulted in thousands upon thousands of casualties all contributed to the "great war," which people hoped and believed would be the only conflict of its kind. In this clear and authoritative account, the Newbery Medal-winning author shows the ways in which the ...

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Overview

Nonfiction master Russell Freedman illuminates for young readers the complex and rarely discussed subject of World War I. The tangled relationships and alliances of many nations, the introduction of modern weaponry, and top-level military decisions that resulted in thousands upon thousands of casualties all contributed to the "great war," which people hoped and believed would be the only conflict of its kind. In this clear and authoritative account, the Newbery Medal-winning author shows the ways in which the seeds of a second world war were sown in the first. Numerous archival photographs give the often disturbing subject matter a moving visual counterpart. Includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In his signature lucid style, Freedman offers a photo-essay that examines World War I. . .An important addition to history curriculum."—Booklist, starred review

"Elegantly written and filled with vivid, powerful photographs, this masterful work demands a spot in every collection."—School Library Journal, starred review

"Freedman once again demonstrates his incomparable mastery of presenting complex, sweeping historical subjects in an engaging, dynamic narrative."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[Freedman's] dramatic, often heart-wrenching narrative ends with a brief description of the rise of Hitler, leading to the reopening of hostilities in 1939. Although his focus is the war in Europe, and the book is unusually evenhanded in assessing the faults and virtues of the combatant countries, Freedman touches on fighting elsewhere in the world."—Horn Book, starred review

"It was the war that world leaders didn't want to fight, and the war that didn't quite end, and here Freedman narrates its story with a steady eye on the wasteful atrocity that ushered in modern warfare. . . . Freedman's timely organization of chronological events and topical issues is masterful, and the allegretto pacing of his narration seems deceptively effortless."—The Bulletin, starred review

"This gritty, well-sourced account of WWI offers a compelling and often horrific look at the conflict. Freedman (Washington at Valley Forge) hooks readers with his fluid style and a detail-rich story of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination and the political powder keg that existed at the time in Europe...Readers' conclusions will likely mirror that of a French soldier writing in his diary just before he was killed: "Humanity is mad!... What scenes of horror and carnage!"—Publishers Weekly, starred review 

Regina Marler
The futility and waste of this first modern war is movingly conveyed in The War to End All Wars, by Russell Freedman, a fast-paced history for young readers, dense with archival photos…Here's hoping Freedman's sane, balanced history inoculates a few readers against war fever and the urge to see any opponent as less than human.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This gritty, well-sourced account of WWI offers a compelling and often horrific look at the conflict. Freedman (Washington at Valley Forge) hooks readers with his fluid style and a detail-rich story of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination and the political powder keg that existed at the time in Europe. The book recounts gruesome mass killings brought about by trench warfare and going "over the top" into the "no man's land" in between, combined with the debuting technologies of machine guns and tanks, chemical and air warfare. Haunting b&w photos and poignant quotations from both Central and Allied combatants do not gloss over atrocities ("dozens of men with serious wounds must have crawled for safety into new shell holes, and now the water was rising about them, and... they were slowly drowning"). This remarkable pictorial overview of WWI, its causes, major battles, and legacies (namely WWII and the repartitioning of Europe and the Middle East) concludes with chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Readers' conclusions will likely mirror that of a French soldier writing in his diary just before he was killed: "Humanity is mad!... What scenes of horror and carnage!" Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The clearest and most comprehensible book about World War I also delivers a strong anti-war message. Freedman presents the political and social temperaments of 1914 and the naivete of European leaders and ordinary citizens that led to the war frenzy. He then takes the reader through all aspects of this war that was presumed at the very beginning to be short-lived. Well-selected photographs personalize the events. Along with the text they show life in the trenches and the death and destruction caused by the use of the new military technologies. The futility of war resonates as Freedman recounts the famous battles of Verdun and the Somme. The changing climate of the war is seen through the sinking of the Lusitania, the war at sea, the Russian Revolution, and the entry of the United States. The last chapter, titled "Losing the Peace" recounts stunning human losses. Freedman correlates the poorly-drawn peace agreement to discord in the Middle East and resentments in Germany, which led to World War II and to today's wars and unrest. Freedman has a singular ability to get to the core of the issue and present it with compelling storytelling. Through his careful and exhaustive research, Freedman selects just the right quotes, and weaves them seamlessly into the text. For a wide range of reasons, this is a book every young person needs to read. Source notes, bibliography, picture credits and an index complete the book. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Library Journal
The most-decorated writer of nonfiction for children and teens tackles the Great War. Combining succinct, elegant, and chilling photographs, Freedman (himself a veteran) brings to life the horrors faced by soldiers and civilians alike through the first war to employ modern weapons and battle strategy. Sadly, the lens of history tells us that this was only the beginning and not the war to end them all.—Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 8/19/10
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—From the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie to the Treaty of Versailles in 1918, Russell Freedman's excellent resource presents complex historical events in a way that young people can understand. Freedman breaks down the Great War into key battles and issues, covering the causes of the war, the leaders, the modern weapons and technology, and the war's consequences. Firsthand accounts of allied and German soldiers are presented as well. Zach McLarty reads in a reporter-like style, but his periodic rising intonation can be somewhat annoying. The discussion guide in PDF format at the end of the last CD includes thought-provoking questions, some facts about the war not covered in the book, related websites, and further reading. An excellent resource for American history classes.—Ivy Miller, Wyoming Seminary Upper School, Kingston, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544021716
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 113,335
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell Freedman received the Newbery Medal for LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY. He is also the recipient of three Newbery Honors, the Sibert Medal, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and was selected to give the 2006 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Mr. Freedman lives in New York City.

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