Friday, March 26, 2010

Books about war.

Most readers would like a weekly feature on books for boys. Sorry, though--no snacks on this blog, nor am I willing to title the feature Dinosaur Monday! Lists of books for boys got a lot of votes. While unwieldy to post, I'll do it anyway; if you would like a version in Microsoft Word, e mail me.

I also got this very good response; the author can certainly send me a name or link!:
"Displays aimed at boys are a good thing. I found a site that had a display of the Guys Read booklist "At Least One Explosion." So I made a display, and besides our awards display, it is our most popular display so far.

Also, I think we shouldn't be condescending to boys and their interests. If they ask for hunting books, don’t get them something that is trying to dissuade them from hunting (there isn’t a lot out there, but The Trap by John Smelcer is very popular with boys.)

I think it is always best to listen to what they want to, and spend the time to search based on their interests. If I have to put in 2 hours' work to find one book for one boy, and that boy really enjoys that book, then that isn't time wasted. We are here for readers.
Just a note: I'm a librarian, in case that wasn't clear."

One thing that I have found boys ask for is books about war. They don't want books set on the home front; they want books about battles. These can be difficult to find; for example, Hobbs' Sonny's War was too much from a teen girl's point of view.

Certainly nonfiction books are good, too. I have gotten several good series lately, including Capstone's Bloodiest Battles, which has been hugely popular, and selected title from the We The People series. This companies The Terrible, Awful Civil War was quite good, replete with facts about clothing, food and sleeping conditions. 24/7 Goes to War was another good series. The problem with all of these, though, is that they are very short.

While not all of the books on this list have a lot of fighting, they have all been popular with my boys.

Books about War

Ancient Times

Ford, Michael. Fire of Ares. (Series of 3)

When slaves rebel in ancient Sparta, Lysander is caught between the Spartan ruling class, with whom he has been training as a warrior since his noble heritage was revealed, and those among whom he was recently laboring as a slave.

Rubalcaba, Jill. The Wadget Eye.

After his mother dies, Damon, a young medical student living in Alexandria, Egypt, in 45 B.C., makes a perilous journey to Spain to locate his father who is serving in the Roman army led by Julius Caesar.

Stone, Jeff. Tiger (Series of 7—Ancient Orient)

Five young warrior-monk brothers survive an insurrection and must use the ancient arts to avenge their Grandmaster.

Sutcliff, Rosemary. Black Ships Before Troy.

Retells the story of the Trojan War, from the quarrel for the golden apple, and the flight of Helen with Paris, to the destruction of Troy.

Dougherty, Terri. 300 Heroes : The Battle of Thermopylae (Series: Bloodiest Battles)

Describes events before, during, and after the battle of Thermopylae, including key players, weapons, and battle tactics.

Crusades, Medieval

Alexander, Lloyd. Westmark. (Series of 3)

A boy fleeing from criminal charges travels about the kingdom of Westmark, and ultimately arrives at the palace where the king is grieving over the loss of his daughter. (Not really historical, but lots of fighting.)

Cadnum, Michael. Book of the Lion. (Series of 3)

In twelfth-century England, after his master is brutally punished for alleged cheating, seventeen-year-old Edmund finds himself traveling to the Holy Land as squire to a knight crusader on his way to join the forces of Richard Lionheart.

Jinks, Catherine. Pagan’s Crusade. (Series of 4)

In twelfth-century Jerusalem, orphaned Pagan is assigned to work for Lord Roland, a Templar knight, as Saladin's armies close in on the Holy City.

Flanagan, John. The Ruins of Gorlan. (Series of 7 and counting)

When Will is rejected by battle school, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt, and winds up protecting the kingdom from danger. (Not really historical, but lots of fighting.)

Spradlin, Michael. Keeper of the Grail

In 1191, Tristan becomes a Templar Knight's squire during the Third Crusade and soon finds himself on a mission to bring the Holy Grail to safety.

Revolutionary War

Avi, Fighting Ground

Thirteen-year-old Jonathan goes off to fight in the Revolutionary War and discovers the real war is being fought within himself.

Barry Denenberg. The journal of William Thomas Emerson : A Revolutionary War Patriot

William writes of his experiences in pre-Revolutionary War Boston where he joins the cause of the patriots who are opposed to the British rule.

Elizabeth Alder. Crossing the Panther's Path

Billy, son of a British soldier and a Mohawk woman, joins Tecumseh in his efforts to prevent the Americans from taking more land from the Indians in the Northwest Territory.

Civil War

Abnett, Dan. The Battle of Gettysburg (Graphic Battles of the Civil War)

Presents a brief depiction of the Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July, 1863; and describes major Union and Confederate generals as well as details of the fight.

Avi. Iron Thunder.

At Tom’s job at the local ironworks he helps build an iron ship for the Union army, and his loyalty come into question when he is approached by Confederate spies to sell secrets about the ship to the South.

Beatty, Patricia. Charley Skedaddle

During the Civil War, a boy joins the Union Army as a drummer, deserts during a battle in Virginia, and encounters a hostile old mountain woman.

Collier, James Lincoln and Christopher Collier. With Every Drop of Blood.

While trying to transport food to Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War, Johnny is captured by a African American Union soldier.

Fleischman, Paul. Bull Run.

An assortment of characters describe the glory, the horror, the thrill, and the disillusionment of the first battle of the Civil War.

Paulsen, Gary

Soldier’s Heart— Eager to enlist, Charley has a change of heart after experiencing both the physical horrors and mental anguish of Civil War combat.

Severance, John B. Braving the Fire.

Jem joins the Union Army but is not sure of his motives or what he hopes to accomplish, particularly since the Civil War has divided his family and caused much violence and confusion in his life.

Sid Hite. The Journal of Rufus Rowe : a Witness to the Battle of Fredericksburg

In 1862, Rufus runs away from home and settles in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he documents in his journal the battle he watches unfold there.

John Wilson. The Flags of War

Two cousins, Nate in South Carolina and Walt in Canada, know nothing of each other until they are united by the Civil War and a runaway slave from Nate's plantation.

World War I

Erich Maria Remarque ; All Quiet on the Western Front

Depicts the experiences of a group of young German soldiers fighting and suffering during the last days of World War I.

Murphy, Jim. Truce.

Tells the story of the December 25, 1914 truce between German and British soldiers as they laid down their weapons and met in No Man's Land to celebrate Christmas.

Wilson, John. And in the Morning.

Canadian Jim Hay joins the army in World War I and is sent to France where he meets a tragic end.

Spilbeen, Geert. Kipling’s Choice.

In 1915, mortally wounded in Loos, France, John Kipling, son of writer Rudyard Kipling, remembers his boyhood and the events leading to what is to be his first and last World War I battle.

World War II

Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker.

After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned and other Navajos are recruited to send messages during World War II.

Cromwell, Sharon. GI Joe in World War II

Examines key events involving U.S. soldiers during World War II that have shaped the course of the nation, while defining the GI's place in history.

DeMallie Howard R. Behind Enemy Lines : A Young Pilot's Story

A young American pilot is forced to bail out over occupied Holland during World War II, helped by the Dutch underground, and imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp.

Dowswell, Paul. True Stories of the Second World War
A collection of stories about the events during World War II and some of their later results.

Elliot, Laura. Under a War-Torn Sky.

After his plane is shot down by Hitler's Luftwaffe Henry strives to walk across occupied France in hopes of rejoining his unit.

Hughes, Dean. Solider Boys.

Two boys, one German and one American, are eager to join their respective armies during World War II, and their paths cross at the Battle of the Bulge.

Napoli, Donna Jo. Stones in Water.

After being taken by German soldiers, Roberto is forced to work in Germany, escapes into the Ukrainian winter, before desperately trying to make his way back home to Venice.

Walter Dean Myers. The journal of Scott Pendleton Collins : a World War II soldier

A seventeen-year-old soldier from central Virginia records his experiences in a journal as his regiment takes part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and subsequent battles to liberate France.

World War II

Salisbury, Graham. Eyes of the Emperor.

Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II.

Wilson, John. Flames of a Tiger.

Dieter believes in the policies of Hitler and the Nazis, but as World War II intensifies and he is called upon to fight for his country, Dieter begins to question everything he believed.

Wilson, John. Four Steps to Death

Two bodies, uncovered at a building site, prompt the investigating officer to remember World War II and the circumstances involving their deaths during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Wulffson, Don. Soldier X.

In 1943 sixteen-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.


DiConsiglio, John. Vietnam : The Bloodbath at Hamburger Hill. (24/7 Goes to War)

Explores, through letters and diary entries, the Vietnam War and its effects on the soldiers and the citizens of Vietnam.

Hughes, Dean. Search and Destroy.

Recent high school graduate Rick Ward, undecided about his future and eager to escape his unhappy home life, joins the army and experiences the horrors of the war in Vietnam.

Kadohata. Cynthia. Cracker, The Best Dog in Vietnam.

A young soldier in Vietnam bonds with his bomb-sniffing German shepherd.

Mitchell. A Sniper’s Journey (NF)

Gary Mitchell recounts the experiences he had while serving as a sniper for the United States Army, describing the assassinations he was ordered to carry out.

Myers, Walter Dean. Fallen Angels.

Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.

Smith-Llera. Danielle. Vietnam War POWs (We the People)

Examines key events that took place during the Vietnam war, focusing on the mistreatment of our POWs.

White, Ellen Emerson. The journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty, United States Marine Corps

A Marine records in his journal his experiences in Vietnam during the siege of Khe Sanh, 1967-1968.


Myers, Walter Dean. Sunrise Over Fallujah.

Robin Perry, from Harlem, is sent to Iraq in 2003 as a member of the Civilian Affairs Battalion, and his time there profoundly changes him.

McCormick, Patricia. Purple Heart.

While recuperating in a Baghdad hospital from a traumatic brain injury sustained during the Iraq War, Matt struggles to recall what happened to him and how it relates to his friend, Ali.


  1. I love this list.

    For fans of Rangers Apprentice series, sometimes I like to suggest The Viking Warriors series by Roberts

  2. Anonymous12:21 PM EDT

    Great list! I have many, but a few are new to me. Thanks!

  3. Anonymous1:55 PM EDT

    This is so helpful, thank you!

  4. I just reviewed Solider X and Purple Heart this week as part of my military in YA feature week!

  5. Anonymous10:47 AM EDT

    Thank you so much for posting this list of books about wars. I have a student who has read everything in our library about war and needed a new list to order from. What a time saver for me!

  6. The book of "Four Steps to Death" by John Wilson is well written and has a great plot. Very fabulous!