Love it or hate it (we hope your answer is hate it), it seems war is here to stay. Someone's always fighting someone else somewhere on this planet of ours, and for that reason alone, books about war are generally worth reading. That said, Tomorrow, When the War Began offers a unique take on war. Instead of hearing about it from a soldier who's signed up to fight, or a military strategist, or a family forced to flee their home, we hear about war from the perspective of a teenage girl who suddenly finds herself with no choice but to do her best to survive, all while trying to find her family.
Published in 1993, Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden is the tale of a motley crew of teens who find themselves pretty much the only people not captured during an enemy invasion. While they were off blissfully hanging in the woods, everyone else was rounded up and taken captive—so now it's up to Ellie and her friends to figure out what the heck to do. One part war drama, one part survival story, with a dash of romance in the mix, Tomorrow is all about one vacation gone horribly wrong.
In the most serious incident, 20 to 30 demonstrators slipped through lines of U.S. marshals and military policeman and into a small vestibule inside the office of the Pentagon’s Mall entrance. Once inside they encountered heavily armed troops. The troops, carrying rifles with sheathed bayonets, used gun butts to force some outside and carried others out bodily. Blood was spotted on the floor. Outside, the big crowd surged forward and began throwing what they had at hand – picket signs, magazines, leaflets, sticks and at least one rock which crashed through a Pentagon press room window…. Throughout the afternoon there were sporadic encounters between small groups and the troops. Several demonstrators were clubbed when they pressed too close to troop lines or refused to move out of forbidden sectors.
As in Laos, the U.S. began to secretly bomb Cambodia in 1965 to order to impede the flow of arms to the NLF-NVA in South Vietnam. In March 1969, President Nixon significantly increased the aerial assaults under the codename MENU, while still keeping the raids secret from the American people, an amazing feat considering that 110,000 tons of bombs were dropped over a fourteen-month period. A Pentagon report, released in 1973, stated that Nixon’s national security adviser, “Henry A. Kissinger approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids in 1969 and 1970 as well as the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers.” In March 1970, Cambodia fell into civil war after Defense Minister Lon Nol engineered a coup d’état. The U.S. backed the anticommunist Nol, sending U.S. forces into Cambodia in May and June. U.S. bombing continued until Congress passed legislation forcing the administration to end it in August 1973. All told, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia, an amount that exceeded the tonnage dropped on Laos. According to the diplomatic historian Greg Grandin:
Ah, vacation… Everyone loves to get away, right? And camping with friends can be an excellent way to do so. There's nothing like a bit of peace and quiet and quality time in fresh air to really cut loose and relax, you know? In Tomorrow, When the War Began, Ellie couldn't agree more. Thing is, upon returning home, instead of getting a hug from her mom and a hot shower, Ellie finds her house empty, her parents missing, and all of her pets dead. Whoa.