Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Non-Fiction Review: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

22718705The Boys Who Challenged Hitler:  Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of Pages: 208
Published:  May 12th 2015

Source:  Library
Genre:  Non-Fiction, Historical, WWII

So back in January I came up with ten bookish resolutions, things like to read more diverse books, classics, YA and nonfiction.   The Boys Who Challenged Hitler sounded like a very interesting nonfiction book based on true events that happened in Denmark during WWII, and luckily my library had a copy.  

During WWII, Denmark became very valuable to the Germans, they were a buffer to other countries,  and they had the materials and easy transport routes that Germany needed for the war.  Denmark had decided that rather than fight  and lose so many people like Norway had during their resistance, they would allow Germany to occupy them or become a "protectorate."  This didn't sit well with Knud Pedersen and his brother Jans.  They were very upset with Denmark for allowing Germany to simply invade them, and this is Knud's story of how they challenged the occupation.   Each chapter alternates between Hoose setting up the historical scene or event and then Knud Pedersen giving his first person account of the events.  Interspersed between Hoose and Pedersen's accounts are actual photographs, historical details, even letters and documents that provide much of the historical context for the story. This is the actual person who was there and participated in the resistance as a teenager.  The beginning of the book is full of action as Knud and Jans destroy telephone lines and the road signs that lead to the German camps.  They start out as a small club of boys who idolized Winston Churchill, even naming the club after him.  Slowly as they get more recruits, the group escalates to sabotage,  stealing weapons, ruining vehicles and then destroying rail-cars.  The details that Knud recalls about the war, mixed with the danger and potential for getting caught, really held my interest.  All of their resistance eventually draws the attention of the German soldiers and leads to a large reward for their arrest.  Which happens sometime around 1942.  The heart-wrenching moments happen as the boys are convicted  and then sent to jail.  Pedersen doesn't hold back on describing how the two years of incarceration affected him and his friends.  Everyone, including his family are changed.  Most of all, these teenagers changed their nation, they began a resistance that was picked up and continued by other teenagers, adults throughout Denmark as the news of their arrest spread.  Pretty cool and defiantly a book a history buff or someone who particularly enjoys reading first person accounts of WWII would enjoy.     


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this review! I just ordered it as there is many a student who will want to be reading this!

DMS said...

I haven't read this one yet, but I do remember seeing it. So glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Learning about history through HF is so much fun. I definitely have to read this soon. Thanks for sharing!

Brenda said...

Certainly one for history buffs, hope your students enjoy it.

Brenda said...

I had hopes it would pique my kiddos interest, but not yet. I just want to model it's ok to read broadly.

DeliveringGrace said...

This sounds fascinating. At which age range is this book aimed?

Brenda said...

The main character is fifteen, but probably twelve and up. Thanks for stopping by.