'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 12 April 2015

Review: Anzac Sons - Five Brothers on the Western Front

While many of the stories for Australian children about World War I focus on Gallipoli, Australian soldiers also played a significant role in the battles that were fought on the Western Front. Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front offers younger readers a compelling story of five brothers from Mologa, Victoria who enlisted as soldiers. Only two returned home.

There were so many young Australians who lost their lives during World War I (more than 60,000 of the 330,000 who served). The small farming town of Mologa had 22 men go to war and only 12 return. Three of the men who died in battle were sons of Sarah and Charles Marlow. The second oldest son, Charlie, married his sweetheart just before leaving Australia, not knowing that his wife was now pregnant and he would never have the opportunity to meet his daughter.

Compiled by Allison Marlow Paterson, the granddaughter of one of the surviving brothers, Anzac Sons combines the story of the Marlow brothers with the unfolding drama of the war. The story is presented through short sections of information supported by numerous photos, letters, documents, maps and timelines, many of which are sourced from a collection of more than 500 letters and postcards found in a suitcase in the Marlow home decades after the war.

The facts and figures of war are important. We learn so much from knowing the time and place of various battles and wartime events, and understanding why decisions were made. Anzac Sons reminds readers of all ages that these facts and figures aren’t the only way to remember the impact of war. The loss endured by this one family and small community represents the experiences of so many Australians at that time.

Presented in a manner that is easy to understand and quite fascinating to read, Anzac Sons is nevertheless a story that is quite heartbreaking as it offers a very personal and relatable perspective on the impersonal statistics of war.

Anzac Sons: Five Brothers on the Western Front (48 pages) is adapted for children from the original title Anzac Sons: the Story of Five Brothers in the War to End All Wars (512 pages), recommended for readers aged 15+. Given the impact of the children’s version, I will definitely be looking for a copy of the more detailed book in the near future.

Title: Anzac Sons - Five Brothers on the Western Front
Author: Allison Marlow Paterson
Publisher: Big Sky Publishing, $14.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 April 2015
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 9781925275148
For ages: 7+
Type: Junior Non-Fiction