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***DK Eyewitness Books

World War I

by Simon Adams

Reviewed April 21, 2003.
Dorling Kindersley, New York, 2001.  64 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (J 940.3 ADA).

For a thorough, highly visual introduction to a topic, you can’t go wrong with Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness series.  Somehow, my United States History classes never seemed to get as far as the Twentieth Century.  I knew some things about World War I, but this book brought them together more coherently in my mind.  The old photographs and pictures of items used in the war were especially fascinating.

I don’t think I had realized the scope of the horror of World War I.  8 million people were killed, 2 million died of illness and disease, 21.2 million were wounded, 7.8 million taken prisoner or missing, and 6.6 million civilians died.  Those kind of numbers are impossible to comprehend.

This book was a perfect preparation for a day trip that our family took to Verdun.  The battle of Verdun lasted for four years and has a two-page spread in the book.  Verdun is only two hours from Sembach, and I highly recommend the trip for other families living here, especially those with older children.  There were many things to see, and we didn’t get to them all.  The Citadelle Souterrain has a historical recreation of the underground fortress, and a slow ride takes you through, with the narration in English (or whatever language you wish).  We also visited the Verdun Battle Memorial and Museum and the lovely waterfront of the River Meuse in the town of Verdun.  There were other forts we could have visited if we had time, and much of the battleground site is now simply forest, suitable for hikes and picnics.  Several villages that once stood there were completely destroyed and were never rebuilt.

It was all very educational and interesting.  We were reminded that war should not be taken lightly, and certainly had a new understanding of why the French people would be in no hurry to rush into war.  If you go to Verdun, be sure to check out this book first, to give yourselves and your children an eyewitness view of a tragic time in history.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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