by Jim Murphy
School Library Journal Gr 6-10-World War I was notable for incredible carnage, the complete senselessness of which was noted by both foot soldiers and such savvy statesmen as Winston Churchill. Murphy begins this history of the Christmas truce of 1914 by limning the buildup to the war. Anyone who has ever felt confused by the connection between the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the conflagration that followed will be vastly enlightened by Murphy's explanation, extended in the comparison, drawn in the epilogue, of Europe in 1914 to the United States just prior to attacking Iraq. The author's descriptions of the fatal collision between 19th-century battle tactics and 20th-century weaponry leave no national high command looking the least bit competent. Given this background, it is quite clear why, in December of 1914, troops (both German/Austrian and Allied) simply ceased fighting. Soldiers fraternized across the barren No Man's Land between trenches, sang together, and exchanged gifts. In some places, the truce lasted until late into the spring. Murphy's research is impeccable, and his use of primary sources is both seamless and effective. Frequent black-and-white photographs and period drawings extend the readable text. The source notes and accurate index add to the usefulness of a volume that seems designed as much as a teaching tool as for general reading. An excellent addition to middle and high school libraries, this affecting book has a place in history curricula as well.-Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Murphy's (A Savage Road to Thunder) account of the causes and first months of WWI offers a poignant and sometimes graphic introduction to the "war to end all wars." While a few of the sepia-toned photos and artwork portray haunting imagery (including one of dead bodies in a trench), the six-chapter narrative doesn't bog down in gloom and hopelessness. Instead, its focus-the Christmas truce that occurred along Western Front trenches in 1914-leaves readers with hope in the human spirit and a sense of the folly and futility of the Great War. The grainy pictures of the truce, taken with soldiers' own cameras, show combatants standing shoulder to shoulder, often smiling or exchanging gifts. "German soldiers noticed that a wooden board was being held up by British soldiers with the words `Merry Christmas'.... Several miles away, another board appeared on the German side that read, `You no fight, we no fight.' " Myriad quotations from young men on both sides (often taken from letters home) set a very personal tone. An extensive time line and additional source material wrap up this moving history lesson. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list *Starred Review* By December 1918, the western front of World War I featured two parallel trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Alps. The armies, both suffering from exposure and disease as well as enemy fire, were so close that they could sometimes hear each other talking. On Christmas Day, an informal peace broke out in many locations along the front. Soldiers gathered between the trenches to mingle, exchange small gifts, and bury their dead. It was apparently the first truce to come from the troops, rather than their leaders. Murphy's excellent telling of this unusual war story begins with an account of the events that led to WWI and follows the shift in the soldiers' mind-sets from the feverish rush to join before the war ended to the painful realization that no end was in sight. Printed in tones of sepia, the illustrations in this handsome volume include many period photos as well as paintings and maps. After discussing the book's origins, the epilogue comments on the effects of government misinformation, past and present. A time line, excellent source notes, and lists of books, movies, and Web sites are appended. Well organized and clearly written, this presentation vividly portrays the context and events of the Christmas Truce.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.