A 2010 Notable Book for a Global Society
An Editor’s Choice, Kirkus Reviews
An ALA Notable Book for Children
“What would happen, I wonder, if the Armies suddenly and simultaneously went on strike and said some other method must be found of settling the dispute?”
On July 29, 1914, the world’s peace was shattered as the artillery of Austria-Hungary began shelling the troops of Serbia, the country to the south. What followed was like a row of dominoes falling over, as one European country after another rushed into war. Austria-Hungary’s very powerful ally, Germany, joined it four days later to declare war on its neighbors and hurried troops across its borders into Belgium, Luxembourg, and Poland.
Against Austria and Germany stood France, Great Britain, Russia, and their many colonies and allies. The war widened in the months and years ahead until almost all of Europe was fighting. Even such faraway nations as Australia, Japan, and the United States were eventually drawn into the conflict. The soldiers who fought in this calamitous war called it the Great War. We know it today as the First World War.
None of the soldiers who joined this war knew how deadly or senseless it would be. In a matter of days, six million of them would find themselves facing weapons of unimaginable destructive power. None of these young men realized that their leaders had lied to get them to fight in a war that did not have to have happened. Nor would they know that on December 25, 1914, they would openly defy their commanding officers and meet on the battlefield in what can only be descried as a Christmas miracle.