Marines on Patrol

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.

Cover of Last Flight from Singapore

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

Fighting on after the Fall of Singapore

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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.”

 

Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad by Henrietta Buckmaster

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This is a story of almost unbelievable heroism and great daring, told with gusto and sincerity. It is told through the lives of courageous men and women—some of them known to us by name; most of them, unknown.

The Underground Railroad maneuvered the escape of Southern slaves to the North. It was carried on at first by a handful of people: Quakers, ministers, farmers, journalists, the escaped slaves themselves. The movement spread, and eventually the network extended from Georgia to Iowa, from Alabama to Canada.

The North Star was the slave’s hope . . . “keep on going north, and if you do not die, you will find freedom.” Going north meant careful planning, hairbreadth escapes at night, slow journeys through swamps and forests, careful disguises along open roads. It meant hunger, weariness, and dread. But the rewards of freedom from slavery were worth all the suffering.

Henrietta Buckmaster has told this little-known story against a background of the times.

But history is made by people. So Flight to Freedom is the story of people: Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, Wendell Phillips, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass—and Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose vivid picture of slavery hastened the climax of a conflict that had been brewing since the first slaves were brought to these shores from Africa in chains.

It is a glorious story the author tells, a dramatic chapter in our history. It is a story that is not yet finished.

Book Cover with Text the Fire in the Flint

The Fire in the Flint by Walter F. White

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In this novel Kenneth Harper a southern born but northern trained African American physician returns from World War I to start a medical clinic and practice in southern Georgia.  He is flush from his good treatment by whites in the north and in Europe so he expects such treatment in the south.  His brother warns him but he soon learns that southern white treatment for “negroes” will not allow him to set up the clinic for all that he wants to.  The novel is the story of his slow downfall as he finds out that even sympathetic whites will not challenge the racism of their colleagues, runs afoul of the Ku Klux Klan, has his brother lynched and his sister raped by white men.  He ends being lynched himself while killing some whites in the process. The novel was published in 1924 and met with success. He tried unsuccessfully to have the novel turned into a play or movie.

As a member of the NAACP, Walter White investigated lynchings and worked to end segregation. He was the organization’s executive secretary from 1931 to 1955. White was also a significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance. His books included A Man Called White, and Flight, Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch.

The Cossacks and The Raid by Leo Tolstoy with Maps

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A brilliant short novel inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s experience as a soldier in the Caucasus, “The Cossacks” has all the energy and poetry of youth while also foreshadowing the great themes of Tolstoy’s later years. His naïve hero, Olenin, is a young nobleman who is disenchanted with his privileged and superficial existence in Moscow and hopes to find a simpler life in a Cossack village. As Olenin foolishly involves himself in their violent clashes with neighboring Chechen tribesmen and falls in love with a local girl, Tolstoy gives us a wider view than Olenin himself ever possesses of the brutal realities of the Cossack way of life and the wild, untamed beauty of the rugged landscape.

This novel of love, adventure, and male rivalry on the Russian frontier—completed in 1862, when the author was in his early thirties—has always surprised readers who know Tolstoy best through the vast, panoramic fictions of his middle years. Unlike those works, The Cossacks is lean and supple, economical in design and execution. But Tolstoy could never touch a subject without imbuing it with his magnificent many-sidedness, and so this book bears witness to his brilliant historical imagination, his passionately alive spiritual awareness, and his instinctive feeling for every level of human and natural life.

Translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude

The Long Black Schooner: The Voyage of the Amistad

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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 Calibre experience is reasonable. On Chromebooks you will need to use an ereading app which the Chromebook will provide when it sees the epub file.

Men, women, boys, girls—all are chained together on the slave ship Amistad. Only yesterday they were free in their beloved African villages. Then slave catchers kidnapped them, and are taking them in chains across the sea to be sold.

But Cinque, their leader, has an iron file….

On the night of June 30, 1839, the slaves cut their chains and take over the ship. Here is the true story of a breathtaking and little-known event in American history.

Here is what one reader had to say in a review on Amazon:

The book tells the story surrounding the Amistad. However, it is told in a way that is appealing to both youth and adults. The language is simple and the story is straightforward. There is no historical gobbly-gook here.

I found the book to be rather interesting, quite informative, and fairly easy to read (I read it in less than two days). It makes a great gift for any young history buff or anyone who is interesting in learning more about the Amistad but who hasn’t studied much history.

Debs Speaking to a Crowd

Eugene V. Debs: A Man Unafraid by McAlister Coleman

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From a Review by H.L. Mencken in the American Mercury, August 1930.

“Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.”

MR. COLEMAN’S sub-title may seem a bit pretentious, but the record bears it out. Debs was one of those fanatics who are simply unacquainted with the meaning of fear. At a time when practically all of the other Socialists of America were running ignominiously for cover he stood his ground magnificently and went to jail without a quaver. He would have gone to the gallows, I believe, in the same serene and unperturbed manner. Perhaps it is something of a slander to call him a Socialist at all. He died without knowing more than the A B C of Marxism, and had relatively little to do with its chief prophets. The shabbiness of spirit that is their chief mark, at least on this side of the water, was not in him. An ignorant man, and, in more than one way, a childishly silly man, he yet managed to show a singular fineness of character.
Someday, I suppose, his admirers will be comparing him to Lincoln, as Lincoln is compared to Jesus. The likeness is faulty in each case. Lincoln was a far shrewder and more politic fellow than Jesus, and Debs was far braver and more forthright than Lincoln. In old Abe, in fact, the cross-roads politician was always visible. He never did anything without figuring out its consequences to five places of decimals, and when those consequences promised to damage his private fortunes he usually found a good reason to refrain. But Debs banged through life without caring a damn, innocent and cocksure. He got into trouble very often, but I can find no evidence that he was ever bothered by doubts.
If common decency ever gets any credit in America, and the schoolbooks are revised accordingly, there will be a chapter in them on the great encounter between Debs and Woodrow Wilson. They never met face to face, for Wilson was in the White House and Debs was in prison; nevertheless, their souls came together, and it was old Gene’s that won hands down.
The conflict between them had been fought out in the world many times before, but never by two such perfect champions. On the side of Wilson were power, eminence, learning, glory, a vast forensic skill, a haughty manner, and the almost unanimous support of the American press and people; on the side of Debs there was only the dignity of an honest and honorable man. Debs remained behind the bars, but Wilson danced naked before the world, exposed to posterity as the abject and pathetic bounder that he was. It was his tragedy that he was not only quite unable to achieve decency himself, but also quite unable to recognize it in other men. When he died Harding turned Debs loose, with a gesture both generous and charming. Thus it remained for a boozy Elk out of the Jimson weed country to teach manners to a Princeton Presbyterian….
The whole labor movement in the United States is in the hands of sleek, oily gentlemen who have learned that it is far more comfortable to make terms with the bosses than to fight them. These gentlemen, as I have said, are well fed and well tailored, and have no sympathy with dreamers. Presently they will be collecting money for a monument to old Sam Gompers. But they will never propose a monument to Debs. • In the long run, however, he will probably be recalled, at all events by romantics. There was genuinely heroic blood in him, though he sacrificed himself to a chimera. Mr. Coleman has told his story very well.

Patrick Henry: Firebrand of the Revolution by Nardi Campion, Reading Level is 5.6

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“Firebrand” is an engaging biography of a pivotal figure in America’s fight for independence.

A reviewer from Goodreads writes “This is an older biography of Patrick Henry (1961), with target audience of middle school/junior high. Overall, this was a really excellent read, with plenty of details about Henry’s life and career, but not too overwhelming. It’s written to engage younger readers, so there is some dialogue and little anecdotes along the way, but most of these stories added to the character development of Henry, helping us to see what shaped him throughout his younger years and even as an adult.”

Pioneers of Freedom by McAlister Coleman

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In simple, vigorous fashion, and in a style so clear that it can be read with pleasure by high school students, Mr. Coleman tells the stories of nine men and one woman whom he has chosen as the outstanding leaders of the forces of democracy in America. Some of them are known to every schoolboy, a few of them have almost been forgotten, but all of them again glow with life in these vivid pages.

Here they are — Jefferson, Paine, Wendell Phillips, ‘Gene Debs and the rest—leaders of American democracy. Unforgettable portraits of great men who have pointed the way to a new America.

Louis Pasteur by Mary June Burton

Louis Pasteur-Founder of Microbiology by Mary June Burton

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Learn how Louis Pasteur discovered which microbes were beneficial and which were deadly to mankind.

His years of patient and exhaustive research on the germ theory of disease earned this tireless French chemist a place as one of the true IMMORTALS OF SCIENCE.

Perhaps Pasteur is best known for showing how harmful bacteria could be killed by holding them at a definite temperature for a certain length of time. Later this process acquired its discoverer’s name—pasteurization.

And Pasteur improved the practice of medicine in his day in a major way. It was his research that inspired the British surgeon Joseph Lister to demand that doctors keep germs out of surgeries. Post-surgery deaths from gangrene plummeted due to the work of Pasteur and Lister. Gangrene did not have to set in after surgery if doctors, instruments and bandages and beddings were germ free.

Pasteur was also instrumental in opening a breach in the fight against cholera, yellow fever, and diphtheria. This biography is written at a 10.3 grade level according to the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale available in Microsoft Word.