Review Blog

Nov 09 2012

Eleven eleven by Paul Dowswell

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 978 1 4088 262 2
(Age: 11+) Recommended. World War One. Armistice. Three lives are coming together to meet possibly for the first and last time. They are all young men, caught up in a war out of their control, joining up for reasons as different as they are poignant and sad. It is November 11, 1918, and some men representing the armed forces of England, France and Germany are meeting to discuss the laying down of arms after four years of bloody conflict.
Starting at 2 am on that last day of conflict, a sleeping Alex Meyer, a German teen full of pride of being in the forces, and the English boy, William Franklin, lying about his age to get in and finally Eddie Herts and American pilot are introduced to the reader. Each of their lives is defined most succinctly and we follow their lives through the events of that last day until they meet at 11 am, Armistice.
Dowswell always writes convincingly of conflict, whether it be the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold war of the two World Wars, each of his books is absorbing and informative as he takes young teens and places them in an event which showcases the futility of war. Eleven eleven presents the last day of conflict for his readers, and although at times a touch unsubtle, it is a good read, drawing the reader into the worlds of these three young men, importuning the reader to ask what they would do in these circumstances, sympathising with the characters in their world turned awry.
I was stunned by chapter 6 which fictionalises the meeting between the representatives of the German, French and English armies, discussing the laying down of arms. I had never thought about the actual instigation of Armistice before so the events as outlined are telling of the attitudes of the participating armies, and Dowswell certainly made me think about how it was achieved. In an afterword, Dowswell explains just how much is fact and fiction, so giving the reader another level of understanding of the events outlined in this page turning book.
Fran Knight

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