From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–Comparing the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 to the 9/11 attacks, Bausum describes the events that would eventually lead the U.S. into the European conflict that ultimately became World War I. She then turns her attention to describing the destruction of civil liberties by President Wilson, Congress, and those in control of political power during the country's campaign to “make the world safe for democracy.” Freedom of speech was especially limited by the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. Various government agencies and the courts encouraged citizens to spy on one another. Socialists such as Eugene Debs were tried, convicted, and given long prison sentences for speaking out against the war. Specific attention is also paid to the efforts of Edith Wilson and the president's cabinet to deceive the public and hide his debilitating illness. Black-and-white archival photos and political cartoons are arranged in an artistic manner with informative captions. Red and blue backgrounds create a dramatic effect in the layout of the text. Appropriate quotations by various people of the time are displayed in elegant fonts. Make this unique and timely offering a definite first purchase.–Eldon Younce, Anthony Public Library, KS. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Writer of the Sibert Honor Book Freedom Riders (2006), Bausum looks at America during the WWI period, when fear and intolerance led to the persecution of German Americans, socialists, and peace activists. Beginning with the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German submarine, she discusses government propaganda and the mounting public intolerance, outrage, and violence against all things German. New sedition and espionage acts enabled officials to intimidate or imprison those who might disagree with their positions. Without belaboring the point, Bausum connects the dots between responses to the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania and the 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center. Although much of the detail in Bausum’s chapter on the Lusitania’s sinking seems irrelevant to the main theme, the book as a whole is well focused, well reasoned, and clearly written. Handsomely designed, it features color reproductions of period photos, drawings, paintings, and documents. Back matter includes citations, notes, a bibliography, lists of recommended resources, a detailed time line, and a useful “Guide to Wartime Presidents,” which identifies eight wartime periods in America and, for each, discusses whether (and how) freedom was curtailed and provides a presidential quote. A fascinating, informative book on a topic of perennial concern. Grades 8-11. --Carolyn Phelan
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