The Literature of War

Albert Marrin has also written about World War II; both Hitler and Victory in the Pacific are engagingly written and will educate students far better than the best textbook. A tender and sweet story to read to the intermediate-aged child is The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert Dejong. Set in China during the Japanese occupation, young Tien Pao becomes separated from his family behind Japanese lines. His desperate search for his family, as well as his fortune in being taken in by American soldiers, makes for a satisfying and uplifting story. The effect of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima is told in a moving and provocative work titled Hiroshima by John Hersey. Told through the first-person accounts of six survivors of the bombing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hersey puts a human face upon one of history’s most cataclysmic events. His follow-up on his six survivors forty years afterHiroshima makes a moving epilogue to this book.


The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom will inspire readers with the Ten Booms’ selfless devotion to helping their hunted Jewish neighbors during the German occupation ofHolland. Secreting their neighbors in specially designed hiding places earns the Ten Booms betrayal, arrest, and imprisonment at a notorious Nazi concentration camp. Despite the horror and deprivation of their experience, Corrie triumphs through forgiveness of her enemies.


The Korean War has been covered by three notable authors whose work I highly recommend. For high school-level readers, Richard Kim has written a moving memoir of his childhood in Korea, during the time when his country was under Japanese occupation. Lost Names: Scenes From a Korean Boyhood presents a devoted Christian family, the terror and deprivations of daily life under a ruthless regime, and the power of integrity, courage, and honor in Korea’s darkest hour. So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins is the story of a young Japanese girl who grows up in Korea, where her family is stationed as a result of the Japanese occupation. After the surrender of Japan, Yoko, her mother, and sister must escape through hostile territory. The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi is the true story of a young Korean girl who lives through separation from her family, endless treks through dangerous territory, deprivation, and narrow escapes. Her tenacity, courage, and faith are an inspiration.


This brief article can hardly do justice to the multitude of classic and historical works delving into the countless wars that have made up such a significant part of the record of mankind. I hope that the list above will acquaint you with treasures new and old and enrich and enhance your studies of these important eras of history.


Rea Berg has homeschooled for more than twenty-five years and loves organic gardening, travel to historic sites, nineteenth-century literature, and dance. Rea has a B.A. in English from Simmons College and a graduate degree in children’s literature. She has written numerous guides for studying history through literature and has republished many classic children’s works. With her husband, she owns Beautiful Feet Books ( and can be emailed at She blogs about children’s literature at


Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

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