Friday, July 31, 2015

How the Girl Guides Won the War by Janie Hampton

When I was in Primary school, I used to borrow my friend's Brownie's handbook and read it, because for some reason, I found it fascinating. Even when I was older, I always thought the Girl Guides looked like fun. Yet despite all that, I was never in any of the uniform groups. This book, however, makes me wish I was.

I first heard about How the Girl Guides Won the War when the author was interviewed on This American Life (Gotta listen to the people who gave us Serial occasionally). I was intrigued by the notion of guides all the way in China, and by the fact that they played a part in the war. So luckily for me, Scribd had a copy, and I managed to read it.

How the Girl Guides Won the War was supposed to be a satirical look at the Guides, but when the author started researching, she found out just how much the Guides contributed to the war effort, the book changed direction.

This book starts off with Pax Ting, an international Girl Scouts camp. Unfortunately, the happy atmosphere is threatened by the threat of war. With this prologue, the book delves into its subject matter. It starts off with a brief history of how the Girl Scouts came to be, and then explored the various ways Guides helped in the war. From helping refugee children find a sense of belonging, to sending classified messages, or helping take care of the wounded, the guides were everywhere. Even in China, Guides helped one camp of POW children find a sense of normalcy.

What all these guides did was incredibly heroic. I'm amazed that none of this has popped up before, in history books, or my favourite Good Night Mr. Tom (Maybe it did and I just didn't notice it? I'll have to go grab some tissues and re-read the book).

This was a wonderful book, and it made me wish I had joined the Guides/Brownies. What they did made them heroes, and I wish more people knew that.

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