The War to End All Wars



Freedman, Russell. The War to End All Wars : World War I. 2010. 192pp. Lexile 1220.

This excellent, substantial volume provides a survey of World War I from the onset to the Armistice to the aftermath of the war and its role in World War II.  Freedman tells a dramatic story of fighting on land and sea, and in the air, using a largely chronological structure.  He enlivens the overview with quotes from soldiers and others at the time.  The quotes reveal the grimness of the war as do  statistics about the dead and wounded, and stories about the effects of gas poisoning.  Readers get a sense of the beliefs and propaganda on both sides; the importance of the Americans' arrival; and the roles of women and minorities.  But overall the focus is on the causes and course of the war.  Maps, black-and-white photographs, notes, bibliographic essay, index.

Reading Std #3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.  The first two chapters lay out the larger and specific causes of the war.  Have students read these closely and consider the role of key individuals, some of whom are quoted; events, such as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand; and ideas, particularly in Chapter 2, about whether war was inevitable.

Fiction Tie-In  Pair with Kipling's Choice, a short, moving novel by Geert Spillebean, translated from Dutch, based on the true story of Rudyard Kipling's son who served as an officer briefly during the war before dying in battle.