Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Amulet Books
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales (Book 4)
Wow! Impressive! Nathan Hale has successfully managed to tell the whole story of WWI in a graphic novel. Obviously not everything is covered but this is an impressive primer on the Great War: how it started, why it started, who fought who, the battles, the logistics, the chronology, how the US comes in at the end, the Russian Revolution's impact on the end of the war at the Eastern Front and the final days of how, why and when it ended. Amazing! I read a lot about the two world wars and I learned things I never really fully comprehended before from this. Hale also does something that very few author's of nonfiction books manage to do; he remains unbiased. There are a couple of pages where it looks like the Americans came in and basically cleaned up the mess and won the war for everybody but Hale's multi-pov shows it wasn't that simple.
A couple of things make this book different from the others in the series so far. First, it is very in-depth and I'd recommend it for older ages than the previous books simply because of the level of information. It'd even be great for teenagers studying WWI at school to read for fun and get a better understanding of the war as a whole. However, Hale does, of course, make the book accessible to his intended younger audience for this series by using animal characters in the vein of Spiegelman's "Maus". Each nationality is represented by an animal taken from the country's flag, shield or heritage, ie. Russia are bears, Germany are eagles and the British are bulldogs. Using this technique is controversial, in that some readers do not appreciate its use in nonfiction and Hale brilliantly addresses this by having two of the main characters, Nathan Hale and the Executioner, being of each opinion; debating and commenting on its use throughout the book. Finally, the riotous humour from the previous books is gone. It's still funny, but the scope of the book is so large it doesn't contain the outrageousness we've come to expect but rather a more toned down levity. I'm thoroughly impressed with the book though.
Book 5 comes out at the end of this month (April 2015) and will go back in time to the 1800s and tell us the story of Harriet Tubman. I'm really looking forward to it as I live very close to her church here in Canada and can't wait to see how Hale handles her narcolepsy.