3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2012
Paul Dowswell has been making a name as a writer of historical fiction for children, and for me this is his best yet. Set in the closing hours of the First World War, it conjures up the raw recruits and tired four-year veterans of the front line, still under orders to fight until the final moments before Armistice. You know what will happen in the great scheme, and yet you don't know what will happen to the three main characters, drawn closer and closer together in the last throes of the conflict. Country boys Will Franklin and Axel Meyer have barely arrived at the Front, on the English and German sides; seasoned American pilot Eddie Hertz is looking for one last victory notch on his propeller before returning to high society in New York. Over the last few hours of the war, the three are brought together in an unlikely, desperate and vital bond.
The plot is taut as a thriller, and Dowswell brilliantly captures the atmospheric detail that brings exhausted troops in the battle-churned Belgian countryside alive off the page: the wary camaraderie, grinding Army procedure, flashes of humanity, gallows humour and above all the dull misery of damp and cold and inadequate rations, spiked with fear when shells rain in or snipers strike. It's so hard for us to comprehend the First World War at this distance - so long ago, so enormous, so many lives lost for such unfathomable causes and apparently insignificant gains. Dowswell makes it possible to live and feel the conflict through his three protagonists - and to realise that they had not much more idea of the causes and grand ideas than we do, and are much closer and more like us than we would imagine. A powerful, wise and brillliantly readable book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2012
Every now and again I find a book that stays with me long after I've finished reading it. This is one of those books. Set on one day at the end of WWI it follows three main characters thrown together by the hell of war as they inch towards the end of the conflict. It's their ordinariness that makes them so believable and I felt as if I was with them down there in the mud, looking on, watching and hoping as the drama unfolded. And perhaps that's what I liked best about this book: in the end I came away with the feeling that there was hope despite it all and that something good can be found even in the darkest places. A good read for 11+ and far beyond that. I think the BBC should film this.
on 25 July 2015
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM....BUT LETS ALSO REMEMBER..THE ACOLYTES AND SYCOPHANTS...THE CAPO'S OF GLOBALISATION...WHO FIND A NEVER ENDING LIST OF EXCUSE'S..TO CREATE A CRIMINAL-PERVERSE-SLAUGHTERHOUSE...IN THIS CASE THE CONDENSED LANDSCAPE OF WORLD WAR ONE.....THE SYSTAMATIC DESTRUCTION OF HUMAN BEINGS...BROTHERS AND SISTER'S OF THE PLANET WE ALL SHARE....FOR WHAT?.....ALL THE BEAUTY THAT LAY WITHIN THE TYPE OF PROTAGONISTS IN THIS GREAT BOOK....ELEVEN ELEVEN...IS ABOUT SUCH PEOPLE...JUST TRYING TO GET OVER THE LINE...I HAVE READ QUITE A FEW OF THESE WAR BOOKS WITH THE YOUNG IN MIND....AND EACH ONE MAKES ME MORE ANGRY....IF I AM LEFT WITH ONE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE...BEFORE YOU CHOOSE TO BELONG TO ANYTHING..NO MATTER HOW SHINY OR INTERESTING...DOES YOUR CHOICE ONCE YOU GET BEYOND THE INTRODUCTION OF COLOUR......INVOLVE WANTING TO HATE SOMEONE WHO DECIDES A DIFFERENT PATH?...BECAUSE THIS STARTS VERY YOUNG...AND IF YOUR BRIGHT ENOUGH TO WORK THIS OUT...LIKE THOSE IN WARS AROUND THE WORLD TO THIS DAY...THOSE IN POWER WILL FIND A THOUSAND WAYS....TO DO WHAT THEY HAVE ALWAYS DONE....DESPITE HOW GENTLE,TALENTED...CREATIVE...FULL OF POTENTIAL..YOU ARE. THESE HUMAN BEINGS WITH CHARACTER COURAGE...FAMILY'S...FRAGILE....THOSE WHO BLEED AND CRY IN PAIN......THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THE CREATION....ARE SOMEHOW LED/FORCED/BRAINWASHED BY THE SAME PEOPLE DOWN THE GENERATIONS....SHAME ON THOSE WHO FOUND THIS EXCUSE...SHAME ON THOSE WHO STOOD BACK AND WATCHED...SHAME ON THOSE WHO STOOD BEHIND THOSE WHO COULD NOT GO ON TOTHEN KILL THEM ANYWAY.....LETS MAKE THE WORLD TALK...EXPOSE...AND REMIND EACH OTHER WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE AND WERE....LETS STOP WATCHING THOSE STANDING IN FRONT OF STATUES WHO GIVEN THE CHANCE WOULD MAKE THE SAME CHOICE AS THOSE WHO SENT FELLOW CITIZENS OF OUR PLANET TO A HOLE IN THE GROUND LONG BEFORE TIME !....WELL DONE PAUL DOWSWELL...THE LAST MOMENTS OF WW1..WERE JUST LIKE THE FIRST.....AND FOR THOSE WHO OVERLOOKED AND CREATED...THIS NEVER ENDING MAD INTERLUDE...NEED TO BE EXPOSED TO EVERY CHILD FROM DAY ONE IN SCHOOL....ITS TIME TO KNOW THE MURDERER'S REMEMBER THEM...NEVER FORGET THEM...AND COMPARE WITH THOSE DOING THE SAME THING TODAY....FROM WHATEVER POINT THEY ARE COMING FROM....ANYBODY WHO KILLS ANOTHER HUMAN BEING OR PROFITS FROM THAT KILLING ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD SHOULD BE SHOWN FOR WHAT THEY ARE.....THEY ARE EVIL AND CRIMINAL...ELEVEN ELEVEN BY PAUL DOWSWELL....A GREAT BOOK VIA AMAZON UK
Some 3,000 soldiers on both sides were killed on the very last day of the First World War, in the eleven hours before the Armistice came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918. This novel, aimed at younger readers, though worth reading by anyone, tells the stories of some of those who died, and some of those who survived, during those last few hours, based around the doings of three young men, one British, one German and one American. There are poignant stories of those who die in moments of carelessness or through casual mischance, often at the hands, or rather the bullets, of a sniper hidden in the forest. There is great anger expressed over the fact that the Armistice does not come into effect for six hours after it is signed and yet some people on all sides fight right up until the end, and many soldiers did not know the Armistice had been signed for much of that time. These stories are in a way more poignant and heart-rending than many others - to die so near to the end is even more than usually tragic and wasteful of young lives; some of the minor characters who do so have actually managed to survive for four years at the Front. A gripping and fairly short read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2013
This author is a favourite of my son, he's been reading Paul Dowswell books since the age of 11,he's now 13. All I know is he couldn't put it down, he said it was 'gripping'!
on 19 January 2015
Paul Dowswells books are always well researched and accurate and I'm sure this is no exception, I just didn't find it quite as gripping or challenging as some of his other books. Set on the last day of WW1 in the last few hours, it brings together an American pilot, an underage British infantryman and a German infantryman who all meet in the last hour of the war.