CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004
Hoodwinked has two main themes. One deals with attempts by the Allies during World War Two to deceive the Germans about Allied military plans and thereby weaken the enemy's military preparedness. The other deals with some of the resistance movements in occupied Europe which sabotaged the German war effort. In addition, one chapter mentions Australia's use of "coastwatchers" to warn of Japanese activity in the islands north of Australia and another discusses the German use of deception in the Netherlands to fool the British.
One of the best-known examples of an attempt to deceive the Germans is the story of "the Man Who Never Was," referred to in the book as "Dead Ringer." In 1943, the Allies, Britain and the U.S., decided to invade the island of Sicily in southern Italy prior to the invasion of northern France. To make the Germans believe an attack would take place in Greece and Sardinia, they planted fake documents on the body of a dead man which was released from a submarine off the coast of Spain. The man had died of pneumonia and was given a false identity as a British officer. The ruse worked. The Spanish recovered the body and turned the documents over to the Germans who prepared to defend Greece instead of Sicily.
Other examples of deception that fooled the Germans were using an actor who looked like British General Bernard Montgomery in order to conceal the General's movements and creating a fictitious army in southern England to fool the Germans about the Allies' plans for the invasion of Europe. An interesting resistance story concerns Yugoslav partisan leader Tito and his efforts to fight the German occupiers of his country.
Authors Stephen Shapiro and Tina Forrester collaborated previously on another book, Ultra Hush-Hush. Forrester has written several other books, including the Birthday Book. Shapiro, who received the Canadian War Museum History Award, is credited with researching the stories. Ontario artist, David Craig, did the paintings.
The book contains a number of teaching aids including very helpful maps, a timeline, glossary and an index. In addition, it has excellent sidebars and inserts in the shape of War-Amps key tags with definitions of terms, such as paratroopers and vanguard. These are very effective in attracting the reader's attention. The book is well illustrated throughout with full-page paintings and archival photos. All the illustrations are functional. The layout is attractive and should appeal to young readers.
A history book should be accurate, particularly one written for younger readers who have little prior knowledge of the facts. There are at least two factual errors in Hoodwinked. The most glaring is a colour painting of a meeting between Hitler and Stalin. Readers will naturally assume that the two dictators met, which is not the case. A second, less serious, but still an error, concerns the number of people killed during the war. The book states, "At least 30 million people died. (That's more than live in Canada or California today)." This is wrong. Statistics Canada estimates the population of Canada in 2004 at 31,742,842.
Readers in the age group for whom the book is targeted should have little difficulty understanding the text. It is very easy to read and suitable for classroom use.
A retired college teacher, Thomas F. Chambers lives in North Bay, ON.
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