|German Immigrants in America:
An Interactive History Adventure
Book review by Edna Boardman, Bismarck, North
Raum, Elizabeth. German Immigrants in America: An Interactive History Adventure. Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.
This little book opens when “you,” a
German-speaking immigrant, approach the eastern shore
of America. Then it divides into three sections, each
of which tells of the experiences of three waves of
German immigrants: Germans who came to Texas in the
1940s, Germans from Russia who homesteaded in Dakota
Territory in the 1880s, and what it was like to be
a German immigrant during World War I, 1914-1918.
But each group’s story does not just flow from
beginning to end as a coherent narrative. At several
points, the reader is invited to go to one page or
another where “you” make a decision that
leads to an altered but historically plausible outcome.
Though the book is written for a young audience, it
is not a child’s depiction. Some options lead
to prosperity; in several instances, they lead to
death. The author does not sidestep the presence of
anti-German feelings during World War I. German immigrants
and their families were loyal to their new homeland
during very stressful times.
Of special interest to Germans from Russia readers
is that their story emerges as one of the authentic
streams of German immigration. This is no small thing
for a book that is likely to find its way into many
school libraries and will be read by young people
with few or no connections to German immigrants and
their experiences. Elizabeth Raum shows clearly that
German farmers who had originally lived in Russia
made a significant contribution to American life by
developing the central prairie and producing food.
Designed for the junior high aged reader, this book,
which is one volume of a series on historical movements,
is a bit too gimmicky for this reviewer. The cover
promises 3 story paths, 46 choices, and 17 endings.
Yet, it fits with a popular type of youth book in
which the reader can choose outcomes along the way
and is very carefully put together. Raum has woven
in a great deal of information. There are archival
photographs, maps, a time line, glossary, study helps,
and a final chapter that pulls together the overall
impact of German immigration.
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael