The Underdogs, a Story of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela

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“The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution” is Mariano Azuela’s fictional account of the Mexican Revolution. Originally published as a newspaper serial in 1915, then as a complete novel in 1920, it was first translated into English in 1929 and was a critical and financial success. Based closely on Azuela’s own experiences, it is the story of Demetrio Macias, a peasant who is mistreated by government soldiers and must flee his home. He runs to the mountains and forms a group of revolutionaries to help overthrow the corrupt dictator, Porfirio Diaz. Macias and his comrades are a motley group of outcasts who are often unsure of what precisely they are fighting for and are sometimes no better than the cruel government they are rebelling against. Rather than a simple struggle of honorable peasants against an unjust government, Azuela’s tale is sophisticated and nuanced and captures in stunning detail the lives of the poor, the passion of the revolutionaries, and the heartbreaking disillusionment they must often face. In Azuela’s depiction of Demetrio Macias, he captures the complicated spirit of the Mexican people and his masterful telling of this conflict between the rebels and the federales helped to establish him as one of Mexico’s preeminent novelists.

The novel seems to offer a number of opportunities for writing responses. Compare the Mexico of Demetrio Macias with the Mexico or the United States of today. How is power or wealth allocated in societies? etc.

photo of Marines moving through a swamp

U.S. Marines in Vietnam: Small Unit Action 1966 by Captain Francis J. “Bing” West Jr.

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Grade Level from the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score is 6.2.

The battle scenes are dramatic but are too graphic for middle school readers in our opinion.

And the text of the book is much easier reading than the blurb below:

Vietnam, summer 1966. On a steep mountainside 20 miles inland, a reconnaissance platoon of 18 men holds off hundreds of enemy soldiers for over 12 hours. In a four-day scouting mission near the demilitarized zone, a small patrol ambushes and destroys a Viet Cong base camp. This was the action behind the headlines in Vietnam.

From routine night raids to full-scale assaults, Small Unit Action in Vietnam presents a compelling perspective on the courage, dedication and patriotic enthusiasm of U.S. Marines in the early stages of the war.

Originally published as a strategic training manual, this remarkable and moving document is an authentic eyewitness account of nine separate actions at the company and battalion level. Most books look at the broad picture of the war. Small Unit Action in Vietnam sharpens the focus to show the individual battles as they were actually fought. Captain West’s book describes with taut precision the lightning judgments, tactical decisions and moments of bravery of individual soldiers fighting a deadly enemy in an overwhelmingly hostile environment.

Through his vivid descriptions—of the rugged terrain, the movements of the units, the use of support troops and artillery, the ruses and psychological ploys so crucial in defeating a brilliant, determined and resourceful foe—we experience with stunning clarity the challenges of combat on the front.

Last Flight from Singapore with Maps and Illustrations by Arthur G. Donahue

Fighting on after the Fall of Singapore

To read this ebook on a computer or tablet using Google Play Books, or iBooks on your tablet or iPad, download this epub format.

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Directions on how to email this file to your Kindle device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see these instructions .

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

With the Calibre app, you and your students can read this ebook in epub format on computer screens. By changing the background color, and enlarging the font, the reading experience on a computer screen is reasonable. With Chromebooks, the device will offer a choice of ereading apps when you open the epub file.



As one of the storied few who defeated the Nazi Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, American Arthur G. Donahue-Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross-wished to continue his service and requested overseas duty. 

In October 1941, he was sent to the British protectorate of Singapore as a precaution against a possible threat from Japan, which was already conducting a war in China. This posting soon put him on the spot as the Japanese Army swept down the Malayan peninsula to assault the fortress island.

Within two months, all of Asia was thrown into turmoil as Japan simultaneously bombed Hawaii and invaded the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. Japanese forces swiftly conquered much of Southeast Asia and began moving toward Burma and India. Standing in the face of this onslaught was the British stronghold of Singapore. 

Donahue and his squadron began around-the-clock sorties, reminiscent of their battle against Germany a little more than one year earlier. This time, however, the British forces were overwhelmed and they were forced to surrender the city to the Japanese in February 1942, an event Winston Churchill called “the worst disaster” in British history.

During the final phase of the battle, Donahue was wounded while strafing Japanese transports unloading troops to storm Singapore. He managed to land, and was airlifted on the last flight from the city and ultimately to a hospital in India. In Last Flight from Singapore, Donahue tells his dramatic story, accompanied by photographs he took himself, of the intense and futile battle against the Japanese for control of the gateway to the Malay Peninsula. He continues his story through his convalescence to his return to England, where he once again began patrols over Europe. The manuscript for “Last Flight from Singapore” was found among his effects after he did not return from a patrol in 1942 and was presumed lost. 

From the New York Times review:
“Donahue is no literary artist and he makes no attempt either to dramatize or to underplay his experience. He tells them in a simple, unvarnished manner, much as if he were sitting down with some friends back home. The result is pretty close to what the real thing must have been. There are times when the horror and futility of the Singapore incident shine through with sickening clarity…
“Donahue was one of the expendables, one of the few who stood in the breach while the rest of us found out what was happening. He was one of the few of whom Churchill spoke when he cited the great debt of the many.”