From School Library Journal
Gr 5-9–Walker does an excellent job of breaking down the basics of conflict. The book is clearly organized, with easily identifiable sections and chapters defining conflict and explaining it around ethnic, religious, and resource lines. Maps in black and yellow highlight areas under discussion. Graphic organizers fit nicely with Common Core State Standards organizational structures. While using age-appropriate vocabulary and concrete examples, Walker never talks down to her audience. Instead, she simplifies conflict so that students can understand the basics, like the time line of events in Afghanistan and the concept of genocide, and leaves room for a development of knowledge as students mature. The examples of conflicts in the Middle East are timely. Why Do We Fight? has a longer shelf life than other informational texts as it won't go out of date quickly. Teachers could build seminars and lessons around each chapter, and interested students will find much to think about.–Sarah Knutson, American Canyon Middle School, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Aside from a quick recap of historical conflicts in Afghanistan, Walker steers clear of specifics and presents general overviews of world problems and the methods for resolving global and civil strife. Neither picture is a neat one—innumerable combinations of social, economic, and political factors spark and fuel wars, and (particularly in the modern era) peace is less a quantifiable state than a fragile, incremental process. Yet even unreflective readers will come away understanding, as one of the sidebar quotes (attributed here to Spinoza) puts it, that “no matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.” Aside from occasional maps or charts there are no illustrations, but frequent sidebars and insertions in different sizes or weights of type enhance readability. Walker only occasionally links her analysis to readers’ conflicts and lays out no itemized blueprints or activities for waging peace. Still, she does make a strong case for the importance of open communication, and that’s a good start. Grades 5-8. --John Peters