Thursday, November 10, 2016

Extreme Battlefields: When war meets the forces of nature by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, art by Drew Shannon

This was a fascinating take on the "historical war stories" genre. Each chapter addresses a different battle where soldiers battled a major natural disaster or challenge in addition to the opposite forces.

The battles include historical wars; Hannibal tackling the Alps, British soldiers who were defeated not only by escaped slaves on Jamaican plantations, but also by the topography of the Blue Mountains, Wei Qing in the Gobi Desert, Ecuadorian forces on the Pichincha volcano during the 1800s, and Napoleon's famous battle against the Russian winter.

There are also more contemporary man vs. nature confrontations; The U.S. Navy in World War II battling a typhoon,  Canadian soldiers in the Passchendaele during World War I, India and Pakistan's conflict over the Siachen glacier, the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam, and Allied forces searching for Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora caves.

Each chapter not only discusses the action and tactics, but also the human cost of war, how the battles changed history and affected the war, and the aftermath of the battles and what happened to the people, both soldiers and civilians, involved. The conclusion discusses how weather and topography continue to affect human wars and whether we've learned anything from the past. Further reading, sources for each chapter, photo credits, and an index are also included.

I found this a fascinating collection of stories and one that will be a sure hit with readers. It will appeal to kids who are interested in battles and disaster stories, like fans of the I Survived series, but also is much more than just a collection of battlefield heroics. It includes stories of battles that many kids will be unfamiliar with, stepping outside the typical "good guy vs. bad guy" war stories to include other viewpoints and battles, like the uprising of slaves in Jamaica. It brings up more complex aspects of battles and war to consider as well.

Verdict: A good choice for your history section. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781554517947; Published 2016 by Annick; Borrowed from another library in our consortium

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