Voices of War edited by Tom Wiener; National
Geographic: Washington D.C., 2oo4; $3o
Don’t get scared away by the title or how many pages in this book. It is really the Voices of Heroes. Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf talk about what happened to them in the wars. It’s like sitting down with someone’s grandfather or uncle or brother and hearing them tell stories that you will never learn about anywhere else.
On page 127, Ben Snyder remembers on December 7, 1944 that it had been three years since he heard the horrible news of the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan. He was in the South Pacific still fighting the Japanese and he didn’t know when he would ever go home. When I read that, I remembered the attacks on September 11, 2001, and we are still trying to stop the terrorists.
An army nurse, Isabelle Cedar Cook, wrote, “I keep thinking about the children that will soon only know World War II as a chapter in the history books. I wanted very much to share my experiences with them, so I decided to write a book. I called it In Times of War because in times of war things are very different.” One man told about how his brother had been killed. His mother thought the army would fly him home immediately. “Unfortunately, she believed the nonsense the government put in the newspapers during the war for civilian consumption, such as flying soldiers home when tragedy struck a family,” wrote the soldier, William Whiting. He was in the Army’s 802nd Field Artillery Battalion. When he saw dead German soldiers he wrote that “even though they were .the enemy, once they were dead you could no longer hate them. You could not help but remember they were or had been someone’s son, husband, father, brother.”
That’s what this book is about. How the war is for regular people like nurses, soldiers and sailors. That’s why you should read this book. So you can see how Americans coped with war.
I feel like a walking version of Voices of War I am involved in the Stories of Service Veterans History Project. I am a youth producer. I videotape interviews of veterans for the Library of Congress. Then the veterans’ interviews will be preserved for future generations. These interviews will give information for speech writers, college students and book writers. Each veteran that I interview becomes part of me. I am hearing firsthand accounts of what happened to these men and women. Every one of them has a great story and lesson to pass on. One thing I hear the veterans say is that they want peace. These people know what war is and they want peace in the world. At DePortola Middle School, where I am a seventh-grader, war is not something students think about, but this book would be a very good book to have. It can be used to write history essays and learn about how soldiers and sailors lived and felt then and how they think about the wars now, which is thirty or forty or sixty years later. In history we learn about the generals and presidents and the famous battles. This book tells the real story of the people who fought the wars that became history.