NONFICTION

Extreme Battlefields: When War Meets the Forces of Nature

illus. by Drew Shannon. 160p. bibliog. further reading. index. maps. photos. Annick. Apr. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781554517947; pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781554517930.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5–8—While books on military battles are common, Kyi offers a fresh approach as she details various engagements wherein nature was as great an enemy as the opposing humans. Soldiers and sailors must overcome volcanoes, blizzards, typhoons, deserts, mud, and the like in their efforts to vanquish their foes. Readers learn of Hannibal's difficulties in crossing the Alps, the U.S. Navy's encounter with a typhoon in World War II, Gen. Antonio José de Sucre's troops climbing a volcano to defeat the Spanish, British troops fighting rebel slaves in Jamaica's Blue Mountains, and a variety of other instances, with dates ranging from China in 119 BCE to Afghanistan in 2011. Throughout, the theme remains the same: nature has had a powerful effect on warfare. Kyi's narrative is engaging and reads almost like fiction. Some pages end with ominous last sentences; for example, in relating Napoleon's Russian campaign, she writes, "But by this time the air had already turned crisp," thus enticing readers to continue. Included are helpful inserts about various aspects of particular campaigns. Photographs and colorful line drawings complement the text. There is an excellent bibliography, but there is neither a glossary nor a pronunciation guide, which would have been extremely useful.
VERDICT Minor flaws aside, this book is an excellent complement to titles such as Chris Oxlade's The Top Ten Battles That Changed the World and Richard Holmes's Battle and should be of great interest to those interested in war history.

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