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Why Do We Fight?: Conflict, War, and Peace by N. Walker



Walker, Niki.  Why Do We Fight?: Conflict, War, and Peace.  Toronto: Owlkids Books, 2013.  Print.

In this work, Niki Walker explores the general nature of conflict.  She relates basic aspects of international politics - the existence of power elites, the formation of alliances, the rise of disputes - to the politics of school life.  Along the way, she defines such terms as “negotiation,” “mediation,” “arbitration” and “sanctions.” She mentions examples of 20th century warfare: the post WWII Cold War, the Suez Crisis, and outlines the history of the current crisis in Afghanistan. The role of the United Nations is discussed.  Most impressive is her insertion of pertinent quotes; for example, the chapter entitled “Cooperation or Combat?” begins with the words of Indira Gandhi: “You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.”

Walker is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children and this work demonstrates her typical proficiency.  The book is well organized with good transitions between successive chapters.  The index is rather brief, but the terms therein are consistent with the text.  There is an informative list of sources.

In a departure from her usual literary style, Walker occasionally attempts to use trendy language.  There is a risk here: the vernacular of today’s young reader may be rejected as dated by tomorrow’s.  This quibble aside, the book is highly recommended for use with upper elementary students.  In particular, it could be a useful resource for Remembrance Day activities. 

Reviewer:  Leslie Aitken
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars

Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special and university collections.  She is the former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.