Unraveling Freedom

Unraveling Freedom

The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
In 1915, the United States experienced the 9/11 of its time. A German torpedo sank the Lusitania killing nearly 2,000 innocent passengers. The ensuing hysteria helped draw the United States into World War I—the bitter, brutal conflict that became known as the Great War and the War to End All Wars. But as U.S. troops fought to make the world safe for democracy abroad, our own government eroded freedoms at home, especially for German-Americans. Free speech was no longer an operating principle of American democracy. Award-winning author Ann Bausum asks, just where do Americans draw the line of justice in times of war?

Drawing thought-provoking parallels with President Wilson’s government and other wartime administrations, from FDR to George W. Bush, Bausum’s analysis has plenty of history lessons for the world today. Her exhaustive research turns up astonishing first-person stories and rare images, and the full-color design is fresh and stunning. The result is a gripping book that is well-positioned for the run-up to the World War I centennial.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information.

Baker & Taylor
Analyzes the United States' involvement in World War I, examining the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania and drawing parallels between the administrations of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush.

& Taylor

A provocative analysis of the United States' involvement in World War I examines the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania --the "9/11" of that era--and draws parallels between the administrations of Presidents Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush, exploring the ways in which various tenets of democracy were compromised for German-American citizens.

Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2010
ISBN: 9781426307027
Characteristics: 88 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 27 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 14, 2014

from a Wikipedia article ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I ) ... At the outbreak of WWW1 (July 28, 1014), the United States pursued a policy of non-intervention, avoiding conflict while trying to broker a peace. When a German U-boat sank the British liner RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915 with 128 Americans among the dead, President Woodrow Wilson insisted that "America is too proud to fight" but demanded an end to attacks on passenger ships. Germany complied. Wilson unsuccessfully tried to mediate a settlement. However, he also repeatedly warned that the United States would not tolerate unrestricted submarine warfare, in violation of international law. The former president Theodore Roosevelt denounced German acts as "piracy". Wilson was narrowly re-elected in 1916 as his supporters emphasized "he kept us out of war". ..In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, realizing it would mean American entry. .... After the sinking of seven US merchant ships by submarines and the publication of the Zimmerman telegram, Wilson called for war on Germany, which the US Congress declared on 6 April 1917.


When you walk into a Bausum title you know that you’re going to get information on an old topic now seen in a new light and written in a style that isn’t just accessible but entrancing as well. Ms. Bausum makes you want to know more. To grab ahold of her Bibliography with both hands and just read everything in there. That is as fine and noble response as any non-fiction author of child and teen fare could hope for. And in Unraveling Freedom you have one of Bausum’s best works yet. Necessary reading for ages nine to ninety.

dblockniles Apr 04, 2011

What most impressed me about this book is the topic it covers and the parallels it draws between the political environments of World War I and post-9/11 America. The foreword by Ted Rall (in comic form) lays out the stakes - will we learn from our past mistakes? - in a clear and provocative manner.

Chapter 1 includes a riveting account of the sinking of Lusitania. The book is very readable. The cover is great.

The back end materials include two great timelines. The first is a guide to wartime presidents that compares Wilson's actions to other administrations throughout American history. Why didn't I know that James Maison was so committed to freedom of the press? A second timeline tracks major events in the life of Wilson, the history of the Lusitania, and World War I.


Add a Quote


“In the Spring of 1917, as the United States prepared to declare war on Germany and enter the fight that would become known as World War I, nearly one quarter of all Americans had either been born in Germany or had descended from Germans.”


“... a more careful and attentive watch ought to be kept over foreigners.” - Abigail Adams


Add Age Suitability


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


Add a Summary


Thousands of Germans lived in America on the eve of WWI. Then the hysteria began. It is easy to forget that even as the United States fought abroad for freedom, back at home many of its citizens were oppressed for their beliefs, customs, language, and heritage. Mobs created to “root out spies and enemies” ended with 70 dead and lynched Americans (and not a single one a true spy). Businesses died, the German language was no longer taught, and lives were destroyed. Ann Bausum chronicles with amazing clarity what happens to a country when freedoms are allowed to disappear in the name of war. The parallels between WWI and what’s happening today are unavoidable, and teach a definite lesson about what we should remember when we find ourselves fighting. Backmatter includes a Guide to Wartime Presidents, a Timeline, a Bibliography, and a Resource Guide.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at MenloPark

To Top