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War on the Western Front

Edited by Dr. Gary Sheffield
Osprey Publishing. Ltd
www.ospreypublising.com

445 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
212-685-5560


This book is about the daily life, weaponry, and tactics of the soldiers fighting on the western front of World War I (WWI). The book is in two parts. In part one, "Warrior's on the Western Front," each chapter is about soldiers from different countries and is written by a different author.
  • "German Stormtrooper" by Ian Drury
  • "French Poilu" by Ian Sunner
  • "British Tommy" by Martin Pegler
  • "US Doughboy" by Thomas A Hoff
Each chapter covers how that particular group of soldiers was put together, what the soldiers were expected to do, and some of the major events they accomplished. It tells what the soldiers would wear and eat, and what their everyday life was like. It also gives information on weaponry and tactics and how technology was changing to fit their needs. Each chapter includes a timeline, pictures, and titled sections of information.

The second part of the book, "Trench Warfare," is split into two chapters--"The Early Years of the War" and "The Somme and Beyond"--both written by Dr. Stephen Bull. These chapters are an overview of WWI on the Western Front. They focus more on tactics, weaponry, and technology than actual battles and events. Though battles and events are mentioned, the focus is on how those battles helped lead to better tactics or weapons.
Pros:
Well organized
Lots of quotes from first-hand accounts
Lots of photos
Has timeline
Information about soldiers from the major countries

Cons:
A couple of sad/disturbing pictures for younger children
Not enough maps
It is not necessary to read the first half consecutively. You can jump around, reading what looks interesting, and not be lost. The second half, however, probably should be read in order. I would say the reading level is for high school and older. Some of the information will be hard to follow and be too gruesome for younger readers, but the writing is not offensive to the Christian faith.

My boys have been learning about WWI and its beginnings, and they had some questions about the weaponry and the trenches; this book did a very good job answering those questions. It did a good job explaining the history of the weapons, the way they worked, and how the trenches really changed they way wars are fought--no more standing face to face combat. Just sit, wait, raid, or get raided.

My older son (11 years old) and I really enjoyed the chapters that dealt with each country's soldiers. The detailed information was a welcome change to the regular books we get at the library. It really gave us a chance to see each type of soldier and what they did and how this war was constantly changing in the methods they used.

Overall, this book is a great book to have if you are a WWI or military history buff. If you are not but will be studying WWI for a short time, it is well worth the reading. I suggest you ask your local library to get it. This book may not be a "must have" for your bookshelf, but when I read it I thought, "This is a perfect book for the libraries!" My boys and I are glad it is in our book collection and hope to see a book on the Eastern Front.



Product review by Carissa Ruiz, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, December 2007


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