Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler's Atomic Bomb

Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler's Atomic Bomb

Fall 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Neal Bascomb
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545732437
Hardcover Price: $17.99

This complicated, yet compelling story of the efforts to stop the Nazi development of an atomic bomb during World War II is a true, nail-biting tale of how a band of patriotic, freedom-loving, Nazi-hating, Norwegian commandos, armed with little more than their skis, firearms, explosives, and bravery, pulled off one of the greatest feats of sabotage of World War II.

In most history books, neutral Norway doesn't play much of a role during WWII. But, it turns out, Germany's 1940 invasion and occupation of Norway was all about gaining access to resources Hitler needed to make his own nuclear bomb-potentially a game changer in the outcome of the war.

While the author does due diligence (meaning a slow start) in providing technical details from the science behind the scenes, the personal backgrounds of main characters, and the history of the race to develop nuclear bombs in Germany, the United States and Britain, the truly gripping part of this story is the heroic Norwegian resistance efforts to destroy a chemical plant in Vemork that was producing "heavy water" required to make the Nazis' atomic bombs.

That's when the war-thriller narrative with moment-by-moment suspense and intrigue kicks in. Throughout, this epic tale of a little-known, dangerous mission is enhanced with dozens of black-and-white archival photos of characters, the rugged Norwegian terrain and key locations surrounding Vemork, German occupation troops, as well as primary-source maps and diagrams.

Ultimately, Neal Bascomb's engaging narrative style will win over young readers interested in history-especially once they get past the clarifying background content and into the action of the story.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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