Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson

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courage & defianceCourage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic, 2015.

World War II Denmark is hot! This gripping, lively and intelligent YA narrative nonfiction account of Danish resistance to the German occupation in World War II, takes a broader view than Phillip Hoose’s recent The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (FSG, 2015).

While Denmark surrendered without a fight, and many Danes accepted the occupation without complaint or, in some cases, with hearty support, Hopkinson (Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, 2012) brilliantly brings to life the alternate response to tyranny through the wartime activities of, amongst others, Niels Skov, a lone saboteur, Jørgen Kieler, part of an organized resistance group, and Tommy Sneum, a spy.

A turning point for Denmark was in 1943, when the German occupation became much more aggressive, and the Danish people became aware that Jewish Danes were under imminent threat. In a superlative section, Hopkinson relates how more than 7000 Jewish Danes were swiftly whisked away to Sweden and safety in an extraordinary act of citizen defiance.

The consequences for all those who were captured – both Jewish and resistance – were harsh, and both Skov and Kieler survived grueling hardships in work camps.

There is sufficient, but not exhaustive, context and background in the main narrative with many, if occasionally random, b&w photos. Hopkinson uses primary sources throughout, though unlike Hoose she does not generate any. Thorough backmatter includes a timeline, map, bibliography, source notes and index.

Written in the style of a fictional thriller, with appealing characters and cliffhanger chapter endings, Courage & Defiance will engage and inform teen readers looking for a real life action story. Reviewed from an ARC.

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