November is a good month to reflect on the impact of wars, past and present. Remembrance Day was established at the end of WW1, which was briefly referred to as “The war to end all wars.” We wish that had been the case! Since then conflicts have continued with tragic regularity. Many authors have addressed the theme of war and its casualties in their works.
Recently Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, spoke about the different perspectives taken by people as they struggle to survive the sudden conflict they are thrown into, and react to the decisions and sides they must take. In his presentation during the One Book One Calgary launch, Galloway reminded us that the casualities of war are mostly civilians, rather than those whose profession is war, like soldiers, generals, leaders and doctors.
As part of OBOC’s programming, a discussion on Nov 21 looks at an emerging disturbing trend in modern warfare – the use of Child Soldiers. This is heartbreakingly represented in Romeo Dalliare’s book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children.
The differences between opposing sides is often hard to distinguish. This is simply and poetically shown in another story called The Enemy by Davide Cali. Sitting in a trench, a soldier faces off against an unseen enemy who, as the story progresses, he realizes is not very different from himself.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, offers a unique perspective on war, that of a cavalry horse who witnesses the horrors of trench warfare on both sides of the conflict. Morpurgo’s thrilling story continues to have a powerful resonance, including translations into stage and screen adaptations.
Check out this link for more books with characters who try to make sense of the complexities of war.