Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? Russell Freedman, a master of non-fiction writing, dissects the complex mess of the Vietnam War and presents it back to readers in terms understandable even to middle school students. The first third of the book is devoted to a succinct, cogent history of Vietnam providing background information that is necessary to have in order to understand how the United States became embroiled in combat there. The rest of the book describes the escalation of hostilities, the nature of the guerrilla combat, and finally the withdrawal and aftermath of the war. Plentiful throughout are photos, relevant anecdotes, and quotes from people who were involved. (Note: There are a few swear words contained in the quotes.) The work concludes with a thorough timeline and a fantastic example of how to cite sources.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Pronunciation guides would be useful, especially to younger readers who may not have heard the people and places mentioned aloud.
To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to readers in grades 5 and up who would appreciate a thorough, engaging overview of one of the most controversial wars in which US troops fought.
Who should buy this book? Middle school libraries, high school libraries, and public libraries.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve with other books about the Vietnam War in 959.704.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes if you enjoy well-written narrative non-fiction.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 12/19/16