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Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
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Private Peaceful (2003)

by Michael Morpurgo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Smoothly written, the passivity of the narrator grated on me and even the most active of the characters seemed embedded in their rolls to an exasperating degree. And as a whole it did not fulfill it's promise. ( )
  quondame | Nov 26, 2018 |
Short but powerful. ( )
  infjsarah | Sep 24, 2018 |
One of the most tragic events of the 20th century was the senseless slaughter and sacrifice of many young men on the battlefields of the Somme,Verdun and Passchendaele. The iconic 1914 recruitment poster of Lord Kitchener, wearing a cap of a British Field Marshall, stares and points at the viewer pleading to their sense of allegiance and responsibility by declaring..."Your country needs you" The specially constituted "pals battalions" resulted in friends, neighbours and colleagues enlisting together at local recruiting drives with the promise that they could serve alongside each other. However many of these battalions sustained heavy causalities and this had a significant impact on their communities at home.

In the small Devon town of Hatherleigh lives young Tommo Peaceful with his brother Charlie and the girl they both adore, Molly. This is family life, village life, captured in the idyllic Devon countryside before the encroachment and black clouds of world war 1 destroys the dreams and aspirations of so many in pointless sacrifice ensuring that life would never be the same again....."We'd lie amongst the grass and buttercups of the water meadows and look up at the clouds scudding across the sky, at the wind-whipped crows chasing a mewing buzzard"....Tommo and Charlie are gripped in the romantic notion of helping to eradicate the threat of the Hun who were attempting to grow their military might and realize their imperialistic ambitions. So the two brothers and close friends from the village march blindly off to war where the initial patriotic enthusiasm dies tragically amidst pointless butchering when the reality of war is revealed...."I could no longer pretend to myself that I believed in a merciful god nor in a heaven, not anymore, not after I had seen what men could do to one another. I could believe only in the hell I was living in, a hell on earth and it was man-made, not God-made"......."the terror that is engulfing me and invading me, destroying any last glimmer of courage and composure I may have left. All I have left now is my fear"....

Michael Morpurgo expertly portrays the senseless slaughter and sacrifice of world war 1 to a young impressionable adult audience. This is achieved by comparing the beauty and peacefulness of the English countryside with the shell ravaged mud filled trenches of France....this was the raw reality of war. Private Peaceful is a sombre novel to be read by young and old. It's simplistic language is very effective in creating an image of a time when the romantic notion of war quickly became a vision of hell and where the loss of millions was seen as an acceptable price for the march of imperialism and the misguided ambitions of WW1 military leaders. Highly Recommended. ( )
  runner56 | Aug 16, 2018 |
Tommo Peaceful, a British soldier in WWI, thinks back through his life so far (he's now seventeen) as he serves his sentry duty one night in the trenches: the death of his father when he was very young, life with his mother and two brothers, Big Joe and Charlie, and the girl next door (Molly), with whom both he and Charlie are in love. Through it all, Charlie has been his best friend and closest ally in all things. Tommo even followed him off to war so that they'd remain together. But Charlie's not with him on this long night's vigil, and dawn will bring an unbearable event that will change all their lives.
Morpurgo is an excellent storyteller, which is evident in how he balances Tommo's remembrances with his awful night of dreading what's coming at dawn, and also in how well he paces the revelation of exactly what Private Peaceful is dreading so much. So I do recognize that this is a masterfully told story, but in the end, it's just too sad for me. War stories are difficult for me, and this one is so personal and deeply touching. I'm glad I've read it, but I'm not sure how glad I am with how long it will likely stay with me. ( )
1 vote electrascaife | Mar 19, 2018 |
Adapted from the book jacket: Private Thomas Peaceful has lied about his age and left his family behind to follow his older brother, Charlie, to France to fight in the First World War. Now, Tommo has one almost unendurable night, alone, fighting sleep, to reflect on his life. As the minutes slowly tick by, his memories are full of his childhood in the English countryside. His father, mother, brothers, and first love, Molly, come vividly alive in his mind. But every moment Tommo spends thinking about his life means another moment closer to something he cannot bear to think about – a time when the war and its horrific consequences will change his life forever.

My Reactions
This is a gut-wrenching tale of brotherhood, loyalty, duty, love, courage and forgiveness. I loved the close bond between the brothers, both Tommo and Charlie, but also their brain-damaged brother Big Joe. I applauded their mother’s moral courage in the face of adversity. I felt uncomfortable with the actions of the Colonel, but recognized the British class system at work in the early 20th century. (Thank you, Downton Abbey.) This is not the first book about World War I that I have read, so I was familiar with the horrors of trench warfare and the brutal realities of a long siege, but I still cringed with fear and anxiety as I read about these young men (hardly older than boys) and what they faced. My heart about broke for Tommo and Charlie; I certainly didn’t see that end coming.

I was very glad that Morpurgo added a Postscript and Author’s Note explaining some of the realities of this period in history and how the governments of Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the United States had such different responses to the soldiers who suffered psychological trauma on the battlefields.

This is the third novel I’ve read by Morpurgo, after War Horse (also set in WWI), and An Elephant in the Garden (Dresden, during WW2). My reaction to the former was lukewarm, but I loved the latter. Private Peaceful is closer to “elephant” than “horse.”
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Morpurgoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Meek, ElinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my dear godmother, Mary Niven
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They've gone now, and I'm alone at last.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439636531, Mass Market Paperback)

From the Children's Laureate of England, a stunning novel of the First World War, a boy who is on its front lines, and a childhood remembered. Includes After Words bonus features.

As the enemy lurks in the darkness, Thomas struggles to stay awake through the night. He has lived through the terror of gas attacks and watched friends die by his side. But in the morning, Thomas will be forced to confront an even greater horror.
As the minutes tick by, Thomas remembers his childhood spent deep in the countryside with his mother, his brothers, and Molly, the love of his life. But each minute that passes brings Thomas closer to something he can't bear to to think about--the moment when the war and its horrific consequences will change his life forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When Thomas Peaceful's older brother is forced to join the British Army, Thomas decides to sign up as well, although he is only fourteen years old, to prove himself to his country, his family, his childhood love, Molly, and himself.

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