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It is heartening to see that the war years, while distant to the current generation, are still being recorded in an easily accessible way for children and young adults. Philippa Werry has been very active in writing and compiling stories from New Zealand. Her Waitangi Day and Anzac Day books are a must in every school library.
This title is a little harder to place. The idea of Armistice Day will not be familiar to most New Zealanders. We tend to remember the events of the wars in our ANZAC ceremonies and publications. This book looks at the ends of wars: what happened, how they were later remembered and the aftermath of war both abroad but especially in New Zealand. It also looks at our place both in the United Nations and in peacekeeping operations.
The strongest aspect of the book is the wonderful photos of memorials, events and documents related to the coming of peace. Philippa Werry’s research has seen her include some really interesting and unexpected images. I was at Akaroa when I read the book and was delighted to see the Akaroa Junior Red Cross represented. These images really help to put a face to the events after the wars.
The chapters clearly tell the story and are easy to follow. I think it would be wonderful to see students taking this focus and relating it to their local communities. They will see their local War Memorial, Memorial Drive, Memorial Hall, Memorial Plunket Rooms in a brand new light. It helps to remind us all that while the wars ended, people’s memories of those wars did not. This book helps us understand the continuing importance of peace in our time and the part we all play in this.
Armistice Day, while an unfamiliar term, is an excellent resource for students of war, but more importantly, of peace.
Reviewed by Kathy Watson
Armistice Day: The New Zealand Story
by Philippa Werry
Published by New Holland Publishers