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Private Peaceful Paperback – Special Edition, 2 Jun 2016

4.7 out of 5 stars 554 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks; Anniversary edition edition (2 Jun. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007486448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007486441
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (554 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Longer novels from Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo are always a particular treat, and Private Peaceful is no exception. Tragic, surprising and engaging in equal measures, Morpurgo's novel charts both the childhood of young Thomas Peaceful in the early years of the 20th century, and his eventual underage enlistment in the British army to help fight the First World War.

It is, above all, a poignant story of war and about all of its many life-changing effects on those involved--also the brutality of the commanding regimes and the relentless squalor of trench warfare. It's not for the squeamish--Morpurgo tells it like it was and his honest insight is on every page for all to appreciate.

"Tommo" Peaceful is recalling his childhood from those terrible battlefields. He remembers his big brother Charlie taking him to his first day of school, the death of his father, his mum working hard to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. He remembers his brother Joe, who some called simple, but who to Tommo was very special. He also recalls the only girl in his life, Molly, and how Charlie somehow took her away from him. But as the World turned to War, he had to grow up fast. Together Charlie and Tommo enlist and are sent to France, almost immediately, to what could only be described as pure hell on Earth. Bullets, bombs, death. Shells, noise, dirt. Disease, rats, stench. Charlie and Tommo fight for their lives and to stay together--facing certain death in the face every time they try to advance the British lines.

Morpurgo rattles through his narrative at some speed, gracefully capturing both the horror of war and the ecstasy of life. The ending is shocking and memorable. This is difficult, emotionally draining but highly recommended reading. (Recommended for ages 10 and over.) --John McLay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“His [Tommo’s] journey from agricultural labourer to cannon fodder is movingly told… Michael Morpurgo is expert at getting through to his readers. He writes here about events that should never be forgotten nor forgiven, and does so most effectively.” Independent

“Full of warmth as well as grief, conveying vividly how precious it is to be alive” Sunday Times

“The best novel he’s written since The Butterfly Lion.” Times

“Deserved to last as an insight into the First World War in the same way as, say, The Silver Sword or Goodnight Mr Tom.” Telegraph

“A poignant, elegiac novel.” Daily Mail

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Obviously now Mr Morpurgo knows what he's doing, and so it's no surprise that this is a well written book. However I was surprised that he'd produced such a good First World War novel. He hasn't fallen into any of the usual traps - instead he shows us a group of normal people. The Germans aren't demons, the British aren't saints, and although the war is ever-present, much of the narrative concerns events that happened years before it.
Most of the story is told in one night by Private Tommo Peaceful, who has joined up with his brother Charlie. For much of it Tommo reflects on their childhood, especially their time with their brother Big Joe, who has a learning disability, and their friend Molly. The story takes us up to the night that Tommo's telling the story on, the before something terrible happens - which Tommo has been referring to and dreading throughout the story, although he doesn't tell us until near the end what it is.
This is an excellent book. The story is poignant without needless sentimentality and although Morpurgo is put into the 8-12 category, a lot of adults would enjoy it, while some children in that age range would find it too disturbing. It isn't a long book - it doesn't need to be. I'd recommend it without question.
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Format: Audio Cassette
A friend and I just listened to these CDs on a car journey to York and I must say that this is one of the best audio books I have ever heard. We were not aware of Michael Morpurgo's being a children's author beforehand and bought it only because of the First World War theme. This is not a purely children's book at all, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Jamie Glover's narration is truly incredible. He captures the mood of the book perfectly and his characters come fully to life with his excellent vocal acting. Listen to this book (or, I'm sure, read it) and you will feel like Ma, Tommo, Charlie, Big Joe and Molly (and of course Bertha) are part of your family and you'll be drawn into their long-gone and simpler world. If you have a strong relationship with an older brother, it will touch you even more.
I found myself longing for the book never to stop and I was genuinely moved to tears by the unexpected conclusion. This is not so much a book about the First World War as a book about people, and very real and believable people at that.
Do yourself a favour and buy this book. Then do your friends an equal favour and have them read/listen to it too. It really is one not to miss.
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By A Customer on 2 Mar. 2006
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.It was an emotional and moving story about Tommo Peaceful as a young soldier in the first world war looking back on his life. He always trusted his older brother Charlie who was a best friend to him.The loyalty between them didn't waiver all through the book. Then at school a girl called Molly makes friends with him and Charlie. Big Joe their older brother, who is always very happy and loves everyone, loves Molly too. The things they get up to are amazing. Micheal Morpurgo makes you feel in the book from the first word to the last. I couldn't put it down.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I happened to interview three farm boy veterans, then well into their eighties, when I was researching my book War Horse. They told me something of what they had lived through. There was no poetry in their stories, only horror and regret and great sadness for the loss of good friends. So I came to write Private Peaceful." - Michael Morpurgo took something away with him after those interviews, and he gifts that to you, the reader.

I admit, even now, as an adult, I am enthralled by many of Michael Morpurgos works. He writes with such skill that anyone, young or old, can find themselves caught up in the world he creates for them. Even my dad read it, on my recommendation, and he found it stunning too.

In this particular tale, Private Thomas Peaceful has endured much. And, through every hardship, his brother Charlie has been there to help him through.

The story is written in a first-person narrative and this helps the reader to be there alongside him as he sits his vigil. The waiting, is interspersed with his memories of his times as a child, through to present day, and always with Charlie there beside him.

It is one of those stories that you cannot put down. You want to just read it from start to finish in a single sitting, because it grips you. It is funny, it is sad, it is touching, filled with lines of thought that makes your heart ache.

"They've gone now, and I'm alone at last. I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won't waste a single moment of it. I shan't sleep it away. I won't dream it away either. I mustn't, because every moment of it will be far too precious."

As the hours, minutes, and seconds, fall through the inevitable hourglass of time, you know the waiting is almost over - his night time vigil is going to end.
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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I have been a fan of Michael Murpurgo for some time now and have enjoyed every book of his that I've read so far, but Private Peaceful takes his writing to another level. It's a long time since I've been moved so much by a story, this one left me with the same feeling as the end of 'The Boy In Striped Pyjamas'. I smiled and I cried and I wont forget this for a very long time - if ever.

The story begins with Private Tommo Peaceful reflecting life from the battlefields of the First World War. He thinks back to his childhood fondly - memories of his late father, his loving mother, his much respected older brother Charlie, his slow but gentle brother Big Joe and not least his childhood love - Molly. His memories are those of innocence and friendship, hard-luck and love.

As his story progresses, Tommo and Charlie join up to fight in the Great War - Tommo is only 15. They fight side by side and look after each other all the way. Each chapter is full of Tommo's memories, but each chapter also brings the reader closer to the present time - and to the life-changing moment that leaves you breathless.

The ending of the story is stark, brutal, heart-rending and tragic. The tenderness of the writing and the loss felt by the reader is stunning.

Although a book that is aimed at children and young adults - I would recommend that every adult read this - it's not a long story, but the message of the almost forgotten heroes of the First World War is vitally important - especially as the young men of our country are still giving their lives on a daily basis.
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