Before the Steven Spielberg film, before the National Theatre production, there was the classic children's novel... In the deadly chaos of the First World War, one horse witnesses the reality of battle from both sides of the trenches. Bombarded by artillery, with bullets knocking riders from his back, Joey tells a powerful story of the truest friendships surviving in terrible times. One horse has the seen the best and the worst of humanity. The power of war and the beauty of peace. This is his story. War Horse was adapted ...
Before the Steven Spielberg film, before the National Theatre production, there was the classic children's novel... In the deadly chaos of the First World War, one horse witnesses the reality of battle from both sides of the trenches. Bombarded by artillery, with bullets knocking riders from his back, Joey tells a powerful story of the truest friendships surviving in terrible times. One horse has the seen the best and the worst of humanity. The power of war and the beauty of peace. This is his story. War Horse was adapted by Steven Spielberg as a major motion picture with Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The National Theatre production opened in 2007 and has enjoyed successful runs in the West End and on Broadway. A great way of introducing young readers to the realities of WWI. Look out for Morpurgo's other war fiction including Friend or Foe, Waiting for Anya, King of the Cloud Forests and An Eagle in the Snow. War Horse is a story of universal suffering for a universal audience by a writer who `has the happy knack of speaking to both child and adult readers' (The Guardian). Michael Morpurgo has written more than one hundred books for children and won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and has been short-listed for the Carnegie Medal four times.
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"That's what war is all about, my friend. It's about which of us is the madder."
I remember when I saw this movie when it first came out in theatre. At the time, I didn't realize it was an adaptation from a book. Naturally, when I learned of its origins, I had to read the book as well! War Horse is told in a similar fashion to Black Beauty, as it is told from the horse's (Joey's) perspective. While this point-of-view may be slightly limiting as it leaves out a lot of human emotion, I appreciated how it simplified the narration and actually made everything come across more bluntly. Just like humans, Joey and the other horses felt and experienced raw emotions throughout the war. Fear, anxiety, comradery, sacrifice--however, they came across without jadedness. Unlike humans, animals feel emotions without complications. This narration bled into the human characters throughout that were pivotal in Joey's story, as their complicated situations were unraveled to reveal the jewels underneath.
The main point about this book that I love is the theme of human value. Despite the fact of there being a war going on, there weren't any ruthless characters that only wanted to kill, kill, kill. Everyone had a sense of general right and wrong and understood the fact that war is ugly, traumatic, complicated, and tiresome.
"The horse is yours. Take good care of him, my friend," and he picked up the rope again and handed it to the Welshman. As he did so he held out his other hand in a gesture of friendship and reconciliation, a smile lighting his worn face. "In an hour, maybe, or two," he said, "We will be trying to our best again each other to kill. God only knows why we do it, and I think he has maybe forgotten why. Goodby Welshman. We have shown them, haven't we? We have shown them that any problem can be solved between people if only they can trust each other. That is all it needs, no?"
This element of humanity is undeniably prevalent in a pure form to show how humans can only take so much. For a majority of this war, the people didn't even know what they were fighting for. They didn't hate each other--they knew they were all equals, and they respected each other in that.
Comparably, the theme of friendship is very strong. Deep friendships between men, horses, and men to horses, exist in several examples. Albert and Joey--Joey and Captain Nicholls--Joey and Topthorn--Joey, Topthorn, and Emilie, and several other connections overflow this book with friendship. I believe this is the aspect which makes this book so emotional because the deepness of affection between characters in untainted ways is tangible. It's so tangible, in fact, that several characters willingly faced their fears in order to sacrifice for one another.
This book is devastatingly heart-wrenching at times but makes you feel so good at others. It's a short read, but is packed full of virtue, respectful characters, and honorable missions--both by horse and man. It was a refreshing read and completely cleansed my palate. This book is aimed at children to young adults, but can easily be read and appreciated by someone of any age. I would highly recommend this read to anyone.
Vulgarity: The "H" word is only used once.
Sexual content: None at all.
Violence: Seeing how this book is about WWI, the evidence of violence is there. However, the author does a wonderful job in its portrayal and steers clear of gore, unnecessarily graphic scenes, and the like.
My Rating: ?????
Feb 12, 2013
War Horse just recently became a favorite book of mine. It is a story that connects generations of readers together. The simple writing style about the war is beautifully done.
The story is told from the point of view of Joey, a horse who grows up on the farm with his favorite boy, Albert, living each day peacefully as it breezes by. Later, Joey is forced to perform the grueling and crippling work of a war horse. In some ways, this book could be compared to Black Beauty, also told through the eyes of a horse. But this story focuses on terrible war, and the predicaments that no human or animal should ever have to endure. Yes, there is much bloodshed and conflict in the book, but it is still fit to be a good children's story, especially for young adventurous readers.
Ah! I do believe I've read the first page at least half a dozen times. My favorite sentences from the first page are quoted below:
"My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head." .... "I was not yet six months old, a gangling, leggy colt who had never been farther than a few feet from his mother."
Horses were an important deciding factor of who would win the battles during World War I. Without horses, the soldiers couldn't move machinery, gather the dead, or charge the enemy. Horses were a must-have, no matter which side of the battle you were on. That is why Joey was such an important horse.
"No horse, no guns. No horse, no ammunition. No horse, no cavalry. No horse, no ambulances. No horse, no water for the troops at the front."
This is a very enjoyable book! I think I may have to read it again someday.
Jul 5, 2012
this was a very good story and I enjoyed every minute of it. hard to put down
Mar 15, 2012
I enjoyed this book (had not seen the movie) and was a little afraid it was going to be very sad. However since it is written for young persons - though I still found it a good read- it is not overly sentimental and gives a good account of the life of the horse and some of the tribulations of war.
Mary Russell D
Mar 8, 2012
A very powerful book, heart wrenching but full of a great love of the War Horse
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