Bodyguards! From Gladiators to the Secret Service

Written by Ed Butts
Illustrated by Scott Plumbe

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The world is a large place; it is not possible to know every single thing about it, and no one is expected to have such knowledge. But, occasionally you come across a book that makes you realize the fascination of everyday facts. Bodyguards! is such a book.

Bodyguards have been around, but how many people know that it is a career that goes back to ancient times, has its own code of conduct, and very rigorous training procedures? The book is chock-full of facts and would make a great read for upper elementary and middle school students. You can just picture readers trading stories of ancient Egyptian bodyguards, and enlightening each other on the difference between a Samurai and a Ninja warrior.

The structure of the tale is a travel through time, from the earliest known stories of bodyguards right down to the modern day. In so doing, the book becomes a series of mini-history lessons, enriched by the stories and anecdotes that show what daily life was like. Gladiators “became property for their owners”. Their sweat and other bodily fluids were sold by the owners because they were believed to bestow strength on whoever consumed them.

But rulers are not the only people who need protection. The American ‘wild west’ was truly wild, and those who could did hire someone to protect them. Billy Bonney was one such: a young boy whose loyalty to his master led to deeds that evolved into the legend of Billy the Kid. Even AL Capone of the Mafia needed a bodyguard. In dangerous times, both rulers and the ruled have sought protection. But imagine hiring bodyguards as protection from the paparazzi!

Codes, secret messages, squeaking floors and animals, all have played their role in protecting their masters, and the book details many interesting stories. Callouts and full page comics draw the readers attention, and create read aloud opportunities. A very satisfying book.

Additional Resources:
Author Biography:

  • BodyguardsTitle: Bodyguards! From Gladiators to the Secret Service
  • Author: Ed Butts
  • Illustrator: Scott Plumbe
  • Publisher: Annick Press
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-55451-436-6
  • Genre: Nonfiction/Social Studies
  • Lexile Score: 870

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