Sunday, August 10, 2014

World War One book for the family

New Zealand and First World War by Damien Fenton (Penguin Group NZ)

If you are going to buy only one illustrated non-fiction book about World War One - this is the one that I recommend. It has just been shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards (adult book awards) but I believe every Intermediate and Secondary school should have a copy in their library. It is not cheap but you get a lot of bang for your buck! So why would it suit teenagers? Its 112 pages are beautifully illustrated with photographs, cut-out objects such as medals and weapons, and on every second page is either a pull-out letter/postcard/notice or a fold-out map. There are 8-10 photographs/illustrations/cut-outs/fold-outs per double page spread (approximately 620 images in total). Intermediate-aged students upwards are going to love investigating every detail on the page. (Note, that one double page spread does cover problems with prostitution (tactfully) and soldiers contracting venereal diseases as a result.)

The book is also very well organised. It starts with why the war began, New Zealand's position prior to the outbreak of war, enlistment, training in Egypt, the invasion of Gallipoli and different stages of the battle at ANZAC Cove (four double page spreads), and every other battle during the Great War. There's also pages about: crime and punishment, disease, how the soldiers were looked after if wounded, women at war, the war at sea and air, armistice, the signing of the treaty, repatriation and remembrance. The endpapers feature a world map in 1923.

This book is a fantastic resource for WW1 school projects, as well as for teenagers and adults who just love to collect knowledge and have a special interest in World wars. They'll get a comprehensive understanding of WW1 by the time they've finished reading it. I heartily recommend teachers using this book as a companion to fiction books about the war such as the 'Kiwis at War' series published by Scholastic (see review beforehand).

Dr Damien Fenton is a senior historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in Wellington, New Zealand. He completed an MA in Defence and Strategic Studies at the University of Waikato in 1998 and a PhD in history at the Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales in 2006. His interests include Australian and New Zealand military history and he has worked in this area as an academic and a public historian in both countries.

ISBN 978-0-143-56975-6
RRP $75  (I bought my copy from Mighty Ape for $57 + postage)

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