Bless Patty Campbell for sending me an ARC of this incredibly important book. Just a few days ago I was talking to my friend Lois about all the recruiters in the schools and why their presence seems larger than before. And then I read WAR IS...SOLDIERS, SURVIVORS, AND STORYTELLERS TALK ABOUT WAR edited by Campbell along with Marc Aronson. Now I have the answer. I was unaware that a little provision in NCLB gave the military recruiters full access to high school kids. And present they are. Corrie tells me about them all the time. Her school cannot get a gay-straight alliance going, but the recruiters have open access to the kids and to their personal information. Gotta love NCLB.
Digression aside, this collection is one that needs to get out into as many hands as we can. Campbell and Aronson each write an introduction in which readers are informed about their preexisting views on war. While they are not opposite, it is rather like two sides of the same coin: different perspectives but with some middle ground of agreement. The book contains fantasy (a shivery and eerie story by Margo Lanagan), letters home from a WWI soldier, newspaper reports, first hand accounts, interviews, song lyrics (from Dylan's "Masters of War," and other forms.
Our son served in Desert Storm and has since retired from the military (thankfully as he is rearing 3 young sons). So, we have some small experience with the military. I visit my stepfather's grave in the VA cemetery regularly and am saddened each visit to see a new burial occurring. Most of them are not vets who, like Larry, served in WWII, but are instead young men and women who were serving in Iraq. My visit to Arlington National left me shaken and my convictions even more sure that war is not the answer. I suspect that whatever position/belief you hold, you will find support for it in this essential book. Due out in September 2008 from Candlewick. I hope educators will find ways of using this book with students.