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on 27 February 2012
I came to this book knowing little about it other than the fact that it had just been made into film.
Within the first few pages I was hooked and knew that this was going to be 'one of those books' the kind that everyone should read.
Whilst (surprisingly for me) from the horse point of view, it is an incredibly moving and humbling story. Simple in it's construction it manages to break down the barriers between the warring factions of WW1 into the far less complicated world of the horse who sees good and bad on both sides and judges each only in relation to his own personal treatment. His bewilderment of the concept of 'no man's land' is brought out in relation to what it means to him - he might find some food and I think it brings a wholly new dimension and understanding of the fulitily of war in general.
Heartlifting and poignant, I would highly recommend this book to anyone of any age. Brilliant!
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on 18 October 2017
Bought this book for my daughter to read for a family holiday. My husband and I both read it first as she was finishing another and we both really enjoyed it. She’s 10 and struggles to get into a book, so when she started crying as she was reading I knew maybe something had clicked and she had finally managed to get some empathy for the character and a thirst to keep reading! Hopefully this has opened the flood gates! 😀
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on 19 February 2012
As a child I visited Nethercott Farm and met Michael Morpurgo who ran the farm, in addition to this he had also started writing books.
I saw the adverts for the film, and this made me want to read the book.
I downloaded the kindle edition of this book, and read the whole thing in less than 24 hours.
The story starts when a farmer buys a young colt and takes it back to his farm, where the farmers young son, Albert has a real emotional attachment to the horse. As the young colt develops into an adult horse he is set to work on the farm with another horse, Zoey who kind of takes him under her wing, Joey soon realises that there is only really one member of the family who cares for him deeply, this being Albert.
One day Joey is lead from his stable by Albert's dad and sold to the army, Joey goes onto describe the sheer terror and carnage caused by WW1. Joey ends up in a captive situation where he ends up in the hands of the germans, and is used as a cart horse ferrying injured soldiers to the army hospital. The germans eventually pull out and Joey is left with an elderly frenchman and his grand daughter, who like Albert forms a strong bond with the horse. Joey again at some stage ends up again with the germans, during this time he ends up meeting another horse called Topthorn, but when tragedy strikes Joey refuses to be moved and ends up alone in the middle of No mans Land where the Germans and English come together wondering who this amazing brave horse is, once again Joey ends up back with the English military...will this spell a happy ending for Joey?...Read the book and find out, but be warned...you will definitely need a box of tissues on standby...this book is one of very few that have actually moved me to tears..even writing this review I feel choked...Well done Michael
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on 18 May 2015
I read this because my son was studying it at school and his English teacher recommended it to me at parents evening. Personally, I found it boring and didn't enjoy it much. I watched the film with my son also which I also found boring. Just my opinion though as so many other people have been shocked by this and said vote good the book (and film) are so it's likely just my personally taste as I think it's crucial to recognise, remember & acknowledge the part animals played in war so for that reason it's a good thing.
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on 2 February 2014
I READ THIS BOOK FOLLOWING A THEATRE VISIT TO THE FESTIVAL THEATRE IN EDINBURGH WHERE I SAW THE NATIONAL THEATRE PRODUCTION OF WAR HORSE. AT THE FINALE OF THE PLAY THE POWERFUL ROLLER COASTER OF A PERFORMANCE LEFT ME FEELING EMOTIONALLY WRUNG OUT. DRMA AT ITS BEST.THE BOOK HAD THE SAME EFFECT AND IT WORKS IN HELPING ONE EVALUATE THE STUPIDITY OF WAR AND THE POLITICIANS WHO ALWAYS RATIONALISE ITS NEED OR ' SEX IT UP' . SHOULD BE COMPULSIVE READING FOR THE SMUG AND THE POTENTIAL WAR CRIMINAL.
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on 28 June 2017
This story made me cry, I had no idea what the horses went through in the war. The characters are very believable and there are some tender moments.
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on 23 March 2011
This is a book which has so much to say to so many people. As an adult I enjoyed it immensely yet it is also a book I would want any of my children to read.

At face level it is the simple story of a horse, sold by its owner in the UK to serve the military in Europe in the 1WW. The fortunes of war mean that at different times, it serves both the allies and the Germans. The horse himself tells the tale. He is totally non-judgemental - only commenting on the stark differences between those who treat him with kindness and understanding, and those who do not. Yet his understated, matter-of-fact descriptions of horrendous episodes of the war also bears powerful testimony to the utter futility and mindless stupidity of warfare.

Quite remarkable.
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2011
A good book to introduce children to the horror and futility of war. As seen through the eyes of a horse the horse makes no judgements of the sides in the war, meeting good and bad people from both sides.

It's written in a fairly unchallenging style for children of 10 years old and upwards I'd say.

If you've read other Michael Morpurgo books before you might recognise his slightly mechanical style of writing. If say you've read Private Peaceful you'll not find much new here. Personally I found Private Peaceful to be the better work.

Having said that I still highly recommend this for everyone to read. It'll bring the tears to your eyes and gooseflesh to your arms at all the right moments. You'll feel pretty satisfied by the ending too.
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on 19 August 2013
I have given this book five stars because:
1. It captures the true spirit of a horse.
2. The loyalty and devotion.
3. The will to please.
4. The devotion a horse inspires in others.
5. The love that an owner has for their horse versus the cruelty.
This is a well written book exploring feelings of all who come into contact with the horse Joey.

It explores the good, the bad and the indifference that humans show towards animals.
It shows on the flip side the great capacity of an animal to love despite what he has been through.
This book is an emotional roller coaster. Well written. I read it all in one go despite having to go to work the next day.
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on 8 May 2016
I was so enchanted by the play (and the marionettes) that I have seen it twice (and I am not a theatre goer). The book is different, but equally good. The story being narrated by the main character Joey the horse. Any book set in the carnage of the first world war is bound to be harrowing, yet the book has many uplifting moments - It was written for children after all, but deals with complex issues. Now I need to watch the film.
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