Friday, February 24, 2012

Private Peaceful Dreads Dawn

Private Peaceful
by Michael Morpurgo
Scholastic Press (2004)
208 pages
ISBN: 0439636485
For Grades 7-12

World War I has been completely overshadowed by World War II, but The Great War, as it was known then, with its trenches and gas and tanks ushered in modern warfare and killed more soldiers than any war before or since.  Recently, the last World War I veterans having died, a spate of books and movies, i.e. Stephen Spielberg's War Horse, have come out telling the stories of the men and women who should never be forgotten.

From Michael Morpurgo, the author of War Horse, comes Private Peaceful.  Morpurgo says, "I happened to interview three farm boy veterans, then well into their eighties, from my village of Iddesleigh, in Devon, England.  They spoke movingly, hauntingly of the terrors they had lived through, of the comrades they had lost.  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."

Private Peaceful is the story of Tommo Peaceful, a fifteen-year-old English boy who, though too young to enlist, lies about his age and joins up with his older brother Charlie to prove to himself he isn't a coward.  The novel opens with Peaceful sitting up all night dreading the dawn when the truly horrific consequences of the war will come to bear on his life.  As he waits through the night, he remembers his life story, including his pastoral childhood with his brothers Charlie and Big Joe, his father's tragic death, his kind mother, and his sister-in-law Molly with whom he is in love.  With its graphic description of trench warfare and twist ending, Private Peaceful is a must read novel about the War to End All Wars.

To order from Amazon, click Private Peaceful.


  1. Sounds like a must read...I'll add it to my list. -T

    1. It is good--reminds you that actual humans fight--and die--in war.