Monday 15 December 2014

Truce: the day the soldiers stopped fighting by Jim Murphy

Truce : the day the soldiers stopped fighting by Jim Murphy (Scholastic Press, 2009)

ISBN 978 0 545 13049 3

6 chapters; 116 pages with maps, photographs, posters, paintings and a timeline

Subjects: World War One, France, Christmas, truce, football, non fiction (Year 4-8)

The story of the Christmas truce of December 1914 is well known, but here it is presented in a large format, easy-to-read non-fiction book with plenty of illustrations.

Jim Murphy describes the events leading up to the declaration of war in August 1914, the terrible battles in the latter part of 1914 and the beginning of trench warfare all along the Western Front before he introduces the Truce itself. Seen in context like this, the Christmas Truce underlines the futility of men being sent to war to kill other men with whom they had no personal quarrel, and whom, in fact, they could easily get on with. 

There are some amazing photographs of German and British officers and soldiers mingling in No Man’s Land. “No army photographers were present during the Christmas Truce, so most of the photos of the event were taken by amateurs and are dark and a little out of focus.” (pg 74).  

There are excerpts from several reviews on Jim Murphy's website hereand a fuller review on The Children’s War blog: “Truce is a wonderful book that not only tells the story of the unofficial Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War I, but also gives a coherent, thorough history of the events leading up to the hostilities and just what those terrible first months of war was like in the trenches. “

Author’s website
Jim Murphy is the author of more than 30 books about American history. You can read more About the Author on his website

There are also some Questions and answers (What were you like as a kid? Did you know you wanted to be a writer when you were growing up? Where do your book ideas come from?)

Other books you might like:
War game by Michael Foreman and When the guns fall silent by James Riordan both cover the story of the Christmas truce and football games. 

NZ links
There have been many re-enactments of the Christmas truce football games planned for the centenary in December 2014. In Wellington, young players from schools across the city gathered for a tournament in the presence of the NZ Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, the British High Commissioner and representatives from the German and French embassies. 

The British High Commissioner said that such events were taking place all over the world, "like a giant Mexican wave". He also made the interesting comment that it was rare for representatives from the British, German and French governments to gather together to commemorate the war.

Of course another re-enactment occurs in the Sainbury's Christmas ad - which also raises interesting questions about whether it's appropriate to merge marketing and commemoration like this - or whether it's to be commended as a way of helping people to remember (with profits going to charity.) 

Remember the peace makers
Or do we? Read a thought-provoking article here about Why no one remembers the peace makers

Sainsburys Christmas ad

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