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4.7 out of 5 stars1,353
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 October 2004
Set in three European countries where war hits hard in 1914, Morpurgo's book surprisingly puts its focus with a young horse, through whose eyes and mind the reader is familiarized with the atrocities of war as they unfold. While as a literary device this might appear cheap or far-fetched, here it functions in quite a unique way.
Whether witness, victim or participant, Joey (the horse) merely undergoes whilst observing without interacting by means of speech the way that humans would.
The restraint which the author imposes on his narrative in selecting this point of view just works wonders. The further into the story, the reader (whether adult or youngster) gradually conceives a growing sympathy with the war horse and ends up nearly identifying with his animal companion.
Along with Joey, he gets to interact with the people (civilian or military) who temporarily own him and gradually will, of his own account, make a distinction between the ones who approach him fairly or harshly. As he is dragged into the avalanche of warfare, he gets to make sense of the horse's gratitude and emotionality one way, and his pain or distress, another.
To cut (not such) a long story short, to say that Mr Morpurgo does perfect credit to whoever gets dragged into the nightmarish abyss of war at any time and any place, is no exaggeration. His understated style only adds to the qualities that characterize the book as it is.
Perfection is not of this world, so the word goes, but this one comes ever so close.
War horse is a gem. It is a must-read, and not just for young readers.
Read and understand why, at times, books are indispensable.
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on 4 October 1999
A tremendous book, and it deserves to be up there with Black Beauty. The tale of a horse that becomes part of World War1, and it views the war from both sides. The story is tightly written, the narrative excellent, and the things that happen will live with you long after the book is finished. A climatic scene between enemies is the highlight of the book and should make children (and adults) realise the futility of war. Get the tissues out...this is a wonderful, thought provoking story-with,I hasten to add, a sort of happy ending. Read it yourself, then give it to your children - a wonderful, wonderful book!
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on 14 July 2009
A brilliant book, very poignant. I bought it after seeing the west end play based on the book -which I would also highly recommend. When I had finished the book I passed it onto my 9 year old great nephew who also read it non-stop and thoroughly enjoyed it though he sad it was rather sad. Definitely appeals to all age groups! An easy read but a good one
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on 17 September 2004
I read this book when I was about ten, it was amazing, totally absorbing, I got to the major war scene when I was in quiet reading at school, and cried. Thirteen years later, I have never forgotten this book, it's wonderful, and the author is great and really knows how to capture a reader.
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on 31 August 2009
Micheal Morpurgo is an amazing author and you can truly relate to his books. When I read war horse I was close to tears it is a fantastic book full of mixed emotion. The end is different to what I expected although better. It could easily be a true story as it is so realistic and Joey is a delightful horse that every farmer and every army should have. Once I had picked it up I could not put it down again I was so glued to the book. It is so good the whole of my family are trying to get their hands on it. Once I had finshed war horse I went out and brought farm boy which is also good and a follow up of war horse. Every animal/horse lover is sure to enjoy it whatever their age.
Thumbs up!
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on 13 September 2009
I love it!,it's the best book I've ever read! It's sad good,exciting,and touching.
I'd recomend it to people who love adventure and who love animals. Charlotte age 8
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on 16 December 2005
This is the classic story of Joey a beautiful and courageous red bay with a white cross on his forehead. Joey is bought by Albert's father. Albert falls in love with him and their friendship is a lasting one. However Albert's father needs money and sells Joey to the Army. Joey goes off to the horrors of the First World War. He meets amazing people, Captain Nicholls, Emilie, Mad Old Friedrich and more amazing horses, including his faithful friend Topthorn. Although Joey suffers much ultimately it is a story of hope.
The illustrations set off this special edition perfectly. It is a beautiful story destined to be a great childrens classic.
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on 27 June 2000
This book is very good because the boy, Harry is brave enough to run away from home with a chimpanzee called Ocky in the 2nd World War.One of our favorite parts is when they meet the gypsy girl who keeps hedgehogs in a World War 2 tank.We think this book is suitable for 8-12 year olds.
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on 3 August 2011
Michael Morpurgo's `War Horse' was highly recommended to me and having seen a More 4 documentary earlier in the year discussing its origins and success I was eager to see whether it lived up to the hype. I am a Devonshire lad myself living near the events depicted in the book so it was particularly fascinating to learn about a bygone era from my neck of the woods.

Like most Morpurgo books (I have also read `Escape From Shangri-La' and `Kensuke's Kingdom') the story is told from the perspective of one of the characters, in this case from the horse of the title: Joey. This is a clever and inventive device as later events in the book allow Joey to tell the story of the First World War from both sides. Had the story been told from a human perspective we would get a limited account and understanding focussing on just one side of the conflict.

It all begins for Joey as a young colt in the small village of Iddesleigh. Joey is bought by a local farmer and forms a special bond with the farmer's son, Albert. Initially life is idyllic as the pair work the fields and ride along the Torridge River. There are distant rumblings of trouble in Europe but life goes on at Narracott farm.

The tranquillity does not last and at the outbreak of war Joey is sold to the cavalry and shipped to France. The plot then follows Joey's experiences of the trenches, `No Man's Land,' barbed wire, futile cavalry charges, the emergence of the tank, death and diseases. Joey serves in both armies and witnesses first-hand the horrors of war. The question remains: will Joey survive the war and return home?

The book read exceptionally well, once I overcame my scepticism of a tale narrated by a horse! Morpurgo has a gift for making things immediate and `in the now' infusing the story with tension and anticipation. I was soon with Albert and Joey in the fields of Devon.

The war is described matter of factly and the Germans are not demonised, rather Morpurgo is at pains to make it clear that the men on both sides from officer class to the infantry believe the war is folly and a terrible waste of lives and equipment. Although meant for children the book does not talk down to the reader, rather there is a directness and honesty that permeates throughout.

Despite its dark subject matter concerning war, death and suffering `War Horse' also manages to be uplifting even in the bleakest of circumstances: even when we are at our most savage and brutal there are examples of kindness and decency. Joey touches many lives: the farmer's son Albert, the young cavalry officer Captain Nicholls, the German soldier Friedrich, the English `Tommy' David, the young French girl Emilie and her grandfather. The book is thrilling and poignant in equal measure.

Apart from `Tarka the Otter' and `The Hound of the Baskervilles' this is the only other novel set in my home county that I have read. It did not disappoint and pushed all the right emotional buttons in telling a story about hardship, love, hope and devotion.

One shocking standout statistic that must never be forgotten is that in the First World War a million horses were killed and that was only on the British side. The devastation and suffering was of course universal and a whole way of life was changed forever.

Without getting preachy I think that vivid and compelling stories that educate as well as enthral such as `War Horse' are of vital importance in our understanding of each other and human nature.

After reading this it is easy to see just why it has been adapted into a successful West End and Broadway play and a soon to be released Steven Spielberg film.
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on 4 March 2009
This book is my second favourite book ever (the only book better than it for me is Michael Morpurgo's award winning Private Peacful). This book is good for me because it's about a boy called Harry who steals a chimpanzee called Ocky. He keeps him in a abandoned bombsite next to his house, but when his step father and the police find out they are soon on the run.
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