Experience War Through Graphic Novels

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Sometimes it is difficult to get students engaged in lessons about wartime. It can be just a series of names and dates to them, and if you’ve never experienced war, you might have a hard time relating to what it’s like to be there. Certain movies can help, but they are often more realistic than some people can take.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Graphic novels are a good solution, and will appeal to a wide variety of students. They both show and tell the story, including just enough violence and gore to give readers an accurate view of what happened, while saving them the nauseating sound effects and action. I reviewed Normandy in the past, and there are now two new books in the series.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

The American Civil War was a violent, bloody battle between sides of the country, and often between brothers. Combat was in close quarters, and several of the battles were some of the bloodiest in history. There was also the higher level battle between General Grant on the Union side and General Lee with the Confederates. Grant vs. Lee by Wayne Vansant paints the picture of the final year of the war, through the experiences of these two generals battling it out in Virginia. This was the tipping point for the war, and a turning point in our country’s history.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Starting in the spring of 1864, the book starts with General Ulysses S. Grant taking charge of the Union troops. The action then alternates between the Union and the Confederate sides, illustrating many stories of that last year of the conflict. Highlights include what the Confederates thought about fighting black northern troops, what happened when things went wrong, and how the final surrender of the Confederates came about.

The story is quite compelling, and the illustration truly captures the agony, worry, frustration, danger, and action of the war. It covers the Overland Campaign, the Petersburg Campaign, and the Appomattox Campaign. By this point, the soldiers knew more about what they were doing, and had no illusions that they were there for anything but bloody fighting. The content of the book was thoroughly researched, and the eight maps included where helpful. There is also a list in the back with National Park Service Battleground information.

Grant vs. Lee retails for $19.99 and would be a great read for anyone studying the Civil War, or for war enthusiasts in general. It was released at the end of August this year, and is a great way to learn about this interesting part of the War Between the States.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Fast forwarding 80 years, another new war graphic novel by Wayne Vansant was released in August, Bombing Nazi Germany. We join this one in the midst of World War II, seeing the war through the eyes of the soldiers flying in the bombers over Germany during the Allied air campaign.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Science, strategy, and innovation are key in the battle, each one trying to outdo and stay ahead of the other. The book includes some history from the early days of flight during wartime, where Britain, especially, realized the power of dominating in the air, and the Royal Air Force became its own service in 1918.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

As with all of Vansant’s nonfiction graphic novels, Bombing Nazi Germany includes plenty of informative visuals in addition to the powerful artwork. Maps, diagrams, and an appendix with aircraft specs make this book a great educational resource, as well as being a story well told. You’re put right in the middle of the action, and, in between, you’re shown decisions being made, innovation carried out, and the inevitable fall out. The Epilogue explains what happens to the major characters after the war.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Bombing Nazi Germany retails for $19.99 and gives a really fascinating and intense look inside the planning and execution of the Allied bombing during World War II. War enthusiasts will enjoy it, and anyone learning about this time in history will come away with a better idea of what it was like for the participants.

Image: Zenith Press
Image: Zenith Press

Other books in the series include Normandy and Gettysburg.

I received copies of these books for review purposes.

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