Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I

Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I by Ann Bausum not only a summarizes domestic events during World War I, but also shows how these events parallel those from 9/11. The book brings to mind the quote from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is a finalist for a 2011 Cybils award in the MG/YA nonfiction category

Starting with the sinking of the Lusitania, Bausum sets the stage for the United States entering World War I. Focusing on domestic events, she shows how a propaganda machine whipped up patriotism at the same time liberties were being curtailed, and anti-German sentiments were pumped up to the level where German language courses where discontinued at schools and people dumped German beer. Eventually it reached the point where it was illegal to speak out against the war, and suspicious individuals were jailed and even killed for doing little more than protesting.

In addition to the riveting text, the illustrations are outstanding as well. Bausum is fascinated with the political cartoons of the time, and the book includes several as illustrations, as well as a forward by editorial cartoonist Ted Rall. His two-page spread cartoon summarizes the thesis of the book. You can see more about political cartoons and how to use them for learning at Bausum’s website.

The book has extensive back matter for those who want to learn more.  It includes a “Guide to Wartime presidents”, a time line, research notes, resource guide, bibliography, and an index.

Unraveling Freedom is a thought-provoking book that can be useful on many levels. For example, would be an outstanding addition to a unit on World War I, an awesome resource for reports on U.S. History (including many extra details, such as an overview of President Woodrow Wilson’s later life), naval history (the sinking of the Lusitania) and even for a lesson on understanding political cartoons. It would also be informative for compare and contrast for lessons on 9/11.

Have you read Unraveling Freedom yet? What did you think of it?

Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (November 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426307020
ISBN-13: 978-1426307027

The book reviewed was my personal copy.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s round-up is at Great Kid Books.

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