World War I began in Europe in July 1914. The causes of the war run from economics to the rivalry between the two triple alliances of the powers of Europe. The precipitation of the war is explained by the Serbian assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28. Austria-Hungary moved to punish the Serbians. This move caused Tsarist Russia to mobilize against Austria-Hungary in defense of their ancient allies, the Serbian slavs. Germany then declared war on Russia to defend Austria-Hungary. The war was originally known as The Great War and The War to End All Wars and later was called The First World War and World War I. It was the first time war had been fought on a global scale, with battles being fought in the air as well as on land.
Fear and hatred drove both France and Germany into finding ways to strengthen themselves against each other. Alliances were formed. By the end of 1914, Great Britain had set up naval blockades in the Northern Atlantic, which intercepted supply ships bound for the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria. In early May of 1915, German U-boats had set up their own blockade to prevent ships from reaching the Allied Powers of Great Britain, France, Russia, and after 1915, Italy.
Americans watched from a distance, glad to be on the far shore of the Atlantic. However, Americans were outraged when the U.S. passenger ship Lusitania was sunk by German U-boats in 1915. Finally, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, and the United States joined the Allied Powers and was no longer an observer.
The books recommended in this chapter were chosen in an attempt to help students understand the horrors of World War I and its effects on Americans at home, as well as on those who fought.
Annie is very happy when her father returns home at the end of World War I. Her father continues to work as a doctor in a veteran's hospital near their home. Annie visits the hospital and becomes friends with a young veteran named Andrew, who was badly burned in the war. Through their friendship, Annie comes to understand the devastation war can bring, and Andrew learns to accept his situation and continue on with his life. Grades 5 and up.
After the Dancing Days was chosen to be read with the whole class because of its emphasis on the feelings of people back home in the United States after the war ended and the need to educate people to diminish prejudice.