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Review: Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland

Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland
Published by Puffin
Challenge: DAC, BBC
Source: review copy

Duty calls: Dunkirk is a brilliantly insightful and realistic portrayal of the events of Dunkirk as experienced at ground level by ordinary British soldiers. 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.


Would you recommend it as a good resource for the WWII them I am running for year 8 in November
This one sounds really interesting. I have it on my pile to read in the next few weeks and I'm really looking forward to it!