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Duty Calls: Dunkirk Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141332190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141332192
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Holland is a superb historian who knows his stuff." "Daily Telegraph""

About the Author

James Holland was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and studied history at Durham University. He is the bestselling author of numerous historical non-fiction titles and the Jack Tanner fiction series, and recently presented Battle of Britain: The Real Story on BBC2.

A member of the British Commission for Military History, his many interviews with veterans of the Second World War are available at the Imperial War Museum and are also archived at www.secondworldwarforum.com. Duty Calls: Dunkirk is his first novel for younger readers.



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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Duty calls: Dunkirk is a brilliantly insightful and realistic portrayal of the events of Dunkirk as experienced at ground level by ordinary British soliders. I didn't find it an easy read and it took me a lot longer than normal to get through it but it was certainly worth it.

I specifically requested this book for review because the whole concept of it intrigued me. I am always on the lookout for YA books set in historical settings which are historically accurate which I can recommend to pupils to compliment work done in class. This book is perfect in that regard. The author is clearly well informed about the period and has done extensive research when writing this book.

Another thing I look for in books to recommend to my pupils is a story and main character than they can relate to as it helps to make them empathise with the people who the story is about and draws them in to the story as a whole. Again the main character was perfectly picked in this regard. A 16 year old boy who joined up to fight for his country under age. I think seeing the war through his eyes will give youngsters a jolt because of how very horrific the nature of warfare was and make them see that it was something real that happened to people like them and not just to some random people a long time ago.

What this book also does well is its realism. It does not try to glorify war in anyway to make it more exciting than it was. Yes there are bits that are action packed but there are also scenes which are hard and uncomfortable to read, which will in some cases shock the reader. Again this adds to the story as it really helps you to get into your head what the soldiers really went through in order to save the UK from Nazi invasion.

All in all a book which is historical accurate and engaging. One I would whole heartedly recommend for teens studying the time period for a different perspective of the events depicted.
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Format: Paperback
16-year-old Johnny Hawke lied about his age to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) after hearing Tom Spears (his sister's fiancé) tell stories of his army adventures in India. Now Johnny's in Tom's platoon in the Yorks Rangers, which is trying to repel Germany's invasion of France and Belgium but the French army has collapsed in the face of superior German equipment and tactics and the BEF is in retreat.

Poorly equipped and low on ammunition and supplies, Johnny's platoon must help hold the town of Cassel for as long as possible to allow the rest of the BEF to reach Dunkirk where boats are waiting to take them back to Britain. With the German Panzers closing in and the town being bombardment by Stukas and Messerschmitts, Johnny and his platoon know that with the odds so stacked against them, it will take a miracle to survive ...

A well-known author of adult military fiction, James Holland's first YA novel has boy readers firmly set in its sights.

Packed with period and military details, the book includes a glossary of terms used, maps and a description of how the BEF was set up. Although this helps to make the story feel authentic, at times it also slowed down the plot and I sometimes found the switches from Johnny's perspective in the front line to the decisions being made further up the command chain to be distracting.

Johnny goes though the emotions and experiences you'd expect and it's easy to put yourself in his shoes - especially in one scene where he has to decide whether to shoot a German soldier. Tom is also broadly drawn although I liked the conflicting feelings he had for Johnny because of their prior relationship.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Military historian I was interested to read this book. Very well written book with the author having a great and accurate knowledge of the Dunkirk Campaign. This book is still a great read for adults, even though it is aimed at teenagers. It is not 'dumbed down' in anyway. I would definately recommend.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't expect to enjoy this book at all, and I have to admit that I did stop after the first few chapters to find out about the hierarchy and composition of the British army! I didn't know a company from a regiment or a battalion for a platoon! I do now!

The story follows the life of a very young soldier in the second world war at time when the British forces were withdrawing to Dunkirk to be evacuated back to the UK. It's quite grim, to say the least. However this author makes an exciting story for young adults without finding it necessary to make every soldier into an Indiana Jones style of hero. These young men are often frightened (who wouldn't be!) and the army is on its knees. There is very little ammunition and very little food. They are hungry, tired and dirty. This book doesn't glorify war in the slightest, although the soldiers who were involved in this incident were probably in an even worse state than James Holland has portrayed in the book.

Our hero Johnny is one remarkable young man among many other remarkable young men. I am glad I read this and I hope lots of young adult readers will read it too.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This had very much the flavour of the old Commando and War picture library comic books. However, I like that flavour at times and I really enjoyed the book.
The Battle Of France is normally only remembered as a retreat ending with the Dunkirk evacuation. The soldiers in the rear guard who shielded the invasion put up a good fight, and this book , gives them a bit of credit for it.
It is a work of fiction, but it did spark my interest and I will be looking up a bit more of the history of the rear guard actions.
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