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Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I
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Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  60 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
In 1915, the United States experienced the 9/11 of its time. A German torpedo sank the Lusitania killing nearly 2,000 innocent passengers. The ensuing hysteria helped draw the United States into World War I—the bitter, brutal conflict that became known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars. But as U.S. troops fought to make the world safe for democracy abroad, our o ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by National Geographic Children's Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Oct 05, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Who could have predicted that WWI would become the hot literary topic for child readers in 2009-10? I remember when I was a kid and WWI was glossed over in the midst of my time-pressed teachers' efforts to explain about WWII. WWII was always the war that got more attention, and for good reason. What is there to say about a war that was fought for no good reason and left a nation ripe for the rise of Hitler? Lately, though, a couple authors have found ways to present WWI for young readers in ways ...more
Lars Guthrie
Dec 12, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it really liked it
All the ways the internet promotes superficial reading? Social studies textbooks have picked up on that. Sidebars, inserts, and yes, even links. All from multiple sources. I’m looking at a seventh grade textbook right now which credits seven contributing authors, who have been advised by eleven academic consultants, five reading consultants, and five teacher reviewers. It’s not surprising that its prose is dull.

Making a strong case for eliminating textbooks from the classroom on Edutopia’s site
What most impressed me about this book is the topic it covers and the parallels it draws between the political environments of World War I and post-9/11 America. The foreword by Ted Rall (in comic form) lays out the stakes - will we learn from our past mistakes? - in a clear and provocative manner.

Chapter 1 includes a riveting account of the sinking of Lusitania. The book is very readable, but I was bothered a few times by ambiguous language. For instance, when discussing Wilson's stroke and sub
Oct 18, 2010 Constance rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: School librarians and history buffs
Recommended to Constance by: Sent to me to review.
The time couldn’t be any better for nonfiction and this book is a new breed of nonfiction. Bausum’s newest book is incredible from the first sentence, “In the Spring of 1917, as the United States prepared to declare war on Germany and enter the fight that would become known as World War I, nearly one quarter of all Americans had either been born in Germany or had descended from Germans.” Admittedly, I didn’t get much in the way of school learning about World War I and there were things, big thin ...more
Mar 22, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This book is so, so good! Bausum takes a good look at the freedoms that Woodrow Wilson and his administration took away (or in some cases only tried to take away) from Americans in the name of patriotism and "safety." Here's a great line: "When World War I ended, life in the United States did not go back to how it had been in the days before the sinking of the Lusitania. Things were different, and they stayed that way. The U.S. Government had matured into a professional bureaucracy that collecte ...more
Edward Sullivan
Outstanding history book chronicling how civil liberties eroded while the U.S. ironically entered the war in Europe to "make the world safe for democracy." Bausum makes important connections between these events and those that happened before and after.
Nov 03, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Unraveling Freedom by Ann Bausum, with a forward by Ted Rall, is an interesting look at the erosion of freedoms at home during the World War I era, especially for German-Americans, with parallels made with other wartime administrations.

The text gets your attention from the first sentence: “In the Spring of 1917, as the United States prepared to declare war on Germany and enter the fight that would become known as World War I, nearly one quarter of all Americans had either been born in Germany or
Feb 13, 2012 Julie rated it liked it
I think it's high time we had a national discussion about civil liberties, but I'm not sure this is the book. The concepts are great, and the premise of drawing parallels between anti-German sentiment during WWI and whatever we have now is interesting and important.

However, I find the prose a bit dense and textbook-like. I'm not sure who the intended audience is. The vocabulary seems a bit obtuse for any young person. I'm sure this would be a wonderful addition to the American History curriculu
Jan 16, 2011 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Goodreads description - comparing Lusitania to 9/11 (this hooked me, not to mention it's another WWI book and "Truce" got me so interested):

In 1915, the United States experienced the 9/11 of its time. A German torpedo sank the Lusitania killing nearly 2,000 innocent passengers. The ensuing hysteria helped draw the United States into World War I—the bitter, brutal conflict that became known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars. But as U.S. troops fought to make the world safe for democra
Karen Ball
It took only 18 minutes for the ship to go down.
On May 7, 1915, the luxury passenger ship Lusitania was nearing the Irish coast, bringing nearly 2,000 passengers and crew from New York toward their English destination. At 2:10 pm, a German submarine fired a torpedo that tore a hole in the side of the ship, sinking it quickly. Many Americans were among the almost 1300 who perished, and the disaster was what drove America to enter World War I against Germany and its allies. Bausam draws parallels
Ms. Yingling
Dec 19, 2012 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it
Since my heritage is 80% German, and I lived for a long time in Cincinnati, Ohio, I knew a little bit about the treatment of Germans during WWI, but not nearly enough. This was an absolutely fascinating look into a little mentioned topic! At a time when a quarter of the population had German roots, the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U Boat had horrible ramifications. You may have heard how streets with German names were renamed, and dachshunds were called "liberty dogs" for a while, but I ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Adrienne rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, nonfiction
While the United States entered World War I after an impassioned speech by President Woodrow Wilson, who stated that the U.S. needed to fight for freedom, ironically, the U.S.'s involvement in the war led to limited freedoms at home. With the passage of the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act, and the Alien Act, democratic freedoms were lessened, particularly for those of German descent. With the denouncement of Germany and all things German, anyone with connections to Germany could be suspected of ...more
Apr 24, 2012 Brian rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Two things are going on here. This is a good essay-length description of the draconian measures taken to quell dissent during WWI in America. I enjoyed that essay, and I enjoyed the fact that it was illustrated. It ends a bit too patly, and never quite calls the sins of the Bush Administration out for what they were, but it's a good summary of the earlier war.

But the design gets in the way. I kept trying to figure out why I found it familiar, and then I realized: high school textbooks. The bold
Mark Flowers
Mar 23, 2011 Mark Flowers rated it really liked it
p. 62: "Hostility toward the German-American-dominated brewing industry contributed to the passage of . . . prohibition. . . . The war had also prompted women to become increasingly insistent that a nation fighting for democracy abroad owed its own female citizens the right to vote at home"

I've never heard either of these claims made in quite this way, and I can't find a citation for them in the back matter. They sound plausible, but I wonder where Bausum got these ideas.

Nevertheless - a great b
Arlene Szalay
Apr 25, 2013 Arlene Szalay rated it really liked it
This book would be and excellent non-fiction resource in history or English.
With the sinking of the Lusitania, German-Americans began to experience mob rule and vigilantism. The author also discusses the effects on Social activists such as Jane Addams, suffragettes, union organizers and any group working to better worker's rights and conditions. She makes several comparisons to the curtailing of freedoms in other wars and times, such as the Japanese Internment in WWII, McCarthyism in the 1950's,
Nov 06, 2014 Catherine rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I found this book interesting as I have not read much about WWI. I liked the comparisons to the American public's reaction to people who they view as the enemy after the onset of war, and how we never seem to learn to treat our citizens well if we view them as the enemy.

The fist half was more interesting than the last half. It had some annoying text features, but overall it is an interesting informational text.
Oct 01, 2010 Reader rated it it was amazing
Magnificent! Ann Bausum tells the story of WWI through an entirely new lens. Rather than concentrate on the causes of the war, Bausum instead examines how German-Americans were treated on the homefront. Skillfully, Bausum shows how freedom at home suffers when a nation goes to war. There are some wonderful connections between 9/11 and WWII. This is a delight. Great for middle grade. Great for teens too. - B
Mar 18, 2016 Kelly rated it really liked it
An excellent introduction and look at the types of restrictions on freedoms enacted during WWI in the name of security. As I read, I was surprised at the voracity of the reactions that people had, but at the same time I wasn't surprised at some of the actions taken as we have seen many of the same things in the subsequent years. Great photos enhance the research.
Sandy Stiles
Jan 26, 2016 Sandy Stiles rated it it was amazing
Excellent book written for the middle school reader (and me!) Fantastic, eye-opening, and engagingly written, this volume lays out the ways in which the hysteria surrounding WW I created opportunities for limiting and denying freedoms for our citizens. So many parallels to today, and the anti-Muslim sentiments abounding in our country. I was so glad that I read it!
May 14, 2011 Kim rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic-kids
During World War One the United States enacted laws which suppressed the civil liberties of certain American citizens. This book asks important questions such as: Why did the government believe that these laws were necessary? Was the government right in passing these laws? Are there parallels today?
Mar 01, 2011 Kendra rated it really liked it
Discusses the fears prejudices of Americans on the Home Front during WWI that led to some laws and actions that limited freedoms. Interesting comparison to fears immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Lance Greenlee
Dec 26, 2014 Lance Greenlee rated it liked it
Shelves: us-history
Good, a short book, but it seemed to me that most of it was the big picture, more a view of the numbers of people that were affected, and just a few glimpses into the personal experiences of individuals. A good topic for younger and older readers.
Jan 26, 2011 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile
An uncomfortable but fascinating read. This book does an excellent job chronicling the little known, but horrific, events that took place in the United States during World War I. If you are interested in my full review, go to and search the title.
Aug 11, 2012 Trinna rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book reminded me of the events that occurred leading the US into World War I. It was a good book for reminding me and had some great pictures and details that were interesting. But it wasn't an amazing read, just something to refresh my mind on the subject.
Mar 25, 2014 Sugarpop rated it really liked it
I made this required reading for my son. He will usually grumble through the books on our list but this one he enjoyed. We are getting ready to tackle the WWII internment camps and I wanted to set it up and show this pattern.
Sep 02, 2013 Becca rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the happenings on the home front during World War I. I don't have a lot of books about "The Great War" on my shelves, so I am excited to be able to recommend such and exciting and interesting take on democracy and freedom.
Mrs. Mulfinger
Jan 26, 2016 Mrs. Mulfinger rated it really liked it
This gives the reader an overview of the rights that were taken away from Americans before and during WWI.
Jul 30, 2012 Sheryl rated it it was ok
I am not a big nonfiction reader and nothing about this book really grabbed me, but it would be useful for research on the WWI time period and events.
Beth Dailey Kenneth
Beth Dailey Kenneth rated it liked it
Apr 12, 2011
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Ann Bausum writes about U.S. history for young people from her home in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her 2007 book Muckrakers earned the Golden Kite Award as best nonfiction book of the year from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Freedom Riders (2006) gained Sibert Honor designation from the American Library Association and With Courage and Cloth (2004) received the Jane Addams Childre ...more
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