Kids on Fire: Zenith Graphic Histories Teach Teens About Military History

These Zenith Graphic Histories graphic novels make for some great, educational summertime reading for teens.

Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

Normandy depicts the planning and execution of Operation Overlord in 96 full-color pages. The initial paratrooper assault is shown, as well as the storming of the five D-Day beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. But the story does not end there. Once the Allies got ashore, they had to stay ashore. The Germans made every effort to push them back into the sea. This book depicts the such key events in the Allied liberation of Europe as:

1. Construction of the Mulberry Harbors, two giant artificial harbors built in England and floated across the English Channel so that troops, vehicles, and supplies could be offloaded across the invasion beaches.

2. The Capture of Cherbourg, the nearest French port, against a labyrinth of Gennan pillboxes.

3. The American fight through the heavy bocage (hedgerow country) to take the vital town of Saint-Lô.

4. The British-Canadian struggle for the city of Caen against the “Hitler Youth Division,” made up of 23,000 seventeen- and eighteen-year-old Nazi fanatics.

5. The breakout of General Patton’s Third Army and the desperate US 30th Division’s defense of Mortaine.

6. The Falaise Pocket, known as the “Killing Ground, ” where the remnants of two German armies were trapped and bombed and shelled into submission. The slaughter was so great that 5,000 Germans were buried in one mass grave.

7. The Liberation of Paris, led by the 2nd Free French Armored Division, which had been fighting for four long years with this goal in mind.

 

Bombing Nazi Germany (5/5 stars, currently priced at $11.49)

In Bombing Nazi Germany, renowned graphic novel author and artist Wayne Vansant profiles the dramatic joint American-British Allied air war against Nazi Germany throughout Europe during World War II.

Meticulously researched, illustrated, and written with the same unmatched quality of Vansant’s Normandy and Gettysburg (also from Zenith Press), Bombing Nazi Germany tells the story of the first and second generations of airmen, soldiers, and politicians from both sides who sought to bomb the enemy into submission. Vansant traces the development of the wildly controversial Strategic Bombing doctrine in the 1920s and 1930s, the early stages of WWII and the dominance of the German Luftwaffe, and the eventual 1942 involvement of the United States’ 8th Air Force and its vast fleet of B-17 and B-24 bombers.

Beautifully detailed with maps, schematics, and charts, Bombing Nazi Germany also explores how industry and science aided the Allied air forces in these violent fights, as both the Americans and British made crucial advancements in air detection and evasion methods. Finally, Vansant illustrates the lesser-known perspective of the brave German pilots five miles above the earth who fought not to protect Hitler’s Reich, but their homes and families. As entertaining as it is educational, Bombing Nazi Germany continues Wayne Vansant’s tradition of brilliant nonfiction graphic history.

 

Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America’s Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of The Civil War (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

The Battle of Gettysburg is a landmark event in United States history. Widely recognized as the Civil War’s turning point, it accounted for the most casualties of any battle during the war and spelled the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

In this powerful graphic history, Wayne Vansant describes the history leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, as well all of the major military events on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, including the famous fight for Little Round Top on the second day and the death march known as Pickett’s Charge on the third and final day. He paints portraits of each army’s leaders, such as Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, George Meade, and the then little-known Joshua Chamberlain.

Vansant concludes a few months later at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in November, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most iconic speeches of all time, the Gettysburg Address. Gettysburg delivers one of the hallmark events of American history in an exciting and innovative format.

“Wayne Vansant has authored a graphic account of the Battle of Gettysburg with rich illustrations and narrative that makes history come alive. This book will not only spark an interest in the terrible battle and sad aftermath, but will provide the reader with a good understanding of the men and armies memorialized at Gettysburg National Military Park today.” – John Heiser, Historian, Gettysburg, PA

 

Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War’s Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

Grant vs. Lee tells the dramatic story of the final year of the Civil War in Virginia—a bloody and unyielding fight for both sides—through the eyes of the two greatest Civil War generals: the North’s Ulysses S. Grant and the South’s Robert E. Lee.

The long and violent campaigns that took place from 1864–1865 (the Overland Campaign, Petersburg Campaign, and Appomattox Campaign) represent the beginning of modern warfare. By this point of the war, both sides employed seasoned and hardened soldiers who looked past the Victorian sensibilities of the gentleman soldier and understood that there would be no falling back. By the end of 1864, both sides built trenches and mounted attacks to break each other’s lines. There was a stalemate that winter.

Grant’s forces had superior numbers and supplies and by March 1865 they pushed Lee’s army out of the trenches at Petersburg and took Richmond, the Confederate capital. Lee’s dwindling forces retreated west, looking for food and other Southern forces to help continue the fight. After a bitter final battle at Sailor’s Creek, Lee’s army was surrounded by Union forces at Appomattox Court House. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant and the Civil War was over.

Beautifully illustrated and vastly researched, Grant vs. Lee is a dramatic, illustrated introduction to one of the most pivotal years in American history.

 

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