It’s easy to paint a picture of World War II-era German soldiers as cold-hearted Nazi bad guys—pop culture has certainly done so time and time again—but of course the members of Hitler’s army were people too. Some were admirable, some were not, and a great many of them didn’t want to be in the war at all. Some, like Georg Rauch, were even Jewish! Despite Rauch’s Jewish heritage and his activities in the underground resistance, he nonetheless found himself drafted into the German army and forced to serve in a war that he didn’t believe in. In his captivating biography, Rauch details what his time as a reluctant soldier was like. At the tender age of 19, he served as a telegraphist, foot soldier, spy, and prisoner of war. Despite the odds against him—capture, starvation, labor camps, and crippling illness, to name a few—Rauch managed through wits and luck to survive to tell his incredible story. Unlikely Warrior: A Jewish Soldier in Hitler’s Army is a great example of nonfiction for older readers, and it contains a great wealth of primary source material, including nearly 100 letters, photographs, and drawings that Rauch sent to his family from the trenches. Rauch is a very likeable and unconventional narrator, and he has an important story to tell. Even readers who don’t typically enjoy nonfiction will be drawn in by his story, and teachers will be glad to have an offering that fits well into the Common Core curriculum.
352 pages, ISBN:978-0374301422, Ages 11-13 14+, Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA.