The book makes vivid humankind's innate darkness and makes war painful again.
Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
Teens will be open to this somber anthology and to the questions the poems raise for each of us....The book design is spacious and powerful scratchboard drawings in black and white, some small, some full-page, show the humanity and the ruin of those who came back and those left "hanging on the old barbed wire." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
War, from its noble causes and courageous acts to its futility and horror, is presented in this outstanding collection of fine poems. The collection is heavily composed of twentieth century poetry, with a strong focus on the absurdity of war. But Philip has selected poems from earlier time periods as well, and he labels each poem with its associated war or the date it was published. The reader will find many poems from World War I and World War II but also a number from other periods, such as the Crimean, Napoleonic, and Vietnam wars. Several poems from China include one from the eleventh century BC, and the collection includes a few contemporary poems as well. The editor succeeds in his endeavor to show "how similar the experience of both war and soldiering has been throughout human history." McCurdy's scratchboard illustrations have a stark, sturdy seriousness about them. They are the perfect accompaniment to the text.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Students often have to locate and read poems pertaining to a variety of subjects; war is certainly one of the most popular themes in those assignments. This collection provides a cross-section of poets, time periods, and styles pertaining to the subject of war. The introduction emphasizes that poems from the modern era are more likely to describe the desolation, futility, and horror of war than glorify its warriors and feats, as in years past. However, the Chinese poem Pick a Fern from eleventh-century B.C. could very easily have been written by a twentieth-century soldier. Its author's hopes for a swift end to the misery and a safe return to home are universal and timeless. The emphasis of this collection is on World War I, which produced many poignant reflections of lost friends and soldiers foreseeing their own end. In fact, the title of the book is taken from the writing of a young poet who died in the Great War. Yet the American Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, World War II, Vietnam, and the recent Serbo-Croatian conflict are also represented. Haunting poems from Hiroshima survivors and from Holocaust victims are included as well. An array of selections from ancient Greece, South Africa, Russia, and Beirut characterize the similarity of experiences in times of conflict. Philip has compiled other acclaimed works of poetry and folklore. The illustrations scattered throughout the book help to set the somber mood of the collection, while indices by poets' names and by title and first line facilitate access to the poems and epitaphs. The book is intentionally aimed at the juvenile and YA audience, and should prove useful to libraries stocking poetry anthologies. Index. Illus. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Gr 5 Up-A strikingly illustrated collection of poems with a decidedly anti-war sentiment. The selections, covering conflicts from ancient Persia to modern-day Bosnia, are by a wide variety of poets, from the well known (Tennyson, Whitman, Sandburg, Auden), to the obscure (Anakreon from ancient Greece and 11th-century Chinese poet Bunno), to relatively unknown contemporary poets from all over the world. Most of the poems, however, arise from experiences of the two World Wars. They represent a variety of styles and almost all are shaded by an elegiac mood expressing the misery and horrors of war. Though many of the works can be found in other anthologies, the artwork here enhances them all, even Yeats's masterful "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death." The stark and simple scratchboard drawings are reminiscent of the Ernie Pyle illustrations from World War II and are as memorable as the best propaganda. The poems are easily accessed by three indexes: poet, title, and first line. The only drawback is that, despite the diversity of voices and experiences, the one-sided presentation tends to come off as one-noted and diminishes the power of the individual works.-Herman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX
This startling and honest presentation of the horrors of war from Philip and McCurdy (American Fairy Tales, 1996, etc.) uses poems to thoughtfully balance the often romanticized vision of battle as an expression of bravery and honor. Terror, agony, mass slaughter, absurdity, pointlessness, and cruelty are the subjects of poets writing from ancient times to the present; there are also elegies for warriors, celebrating their brave deaths. Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, and Stephen Crane share pages with Anakreon and Simonides; there are contributors from Beirut and Bosnia, as well as from the death trains of WWII. Among McCurdy's somber and realistic black-and-white illustrations are dead soldiers hanging on barbed wire, and a lone soldier standing in a graveyard, holding his head as he says goodbye to those who have died on the fields. The book makes vivid humankind's innate darkness and makes war painful again. (indexes) (Poetry. 10-14)