Monday, 18 July 2016

War in the Wasteland

Finding literature for children about the First World War isn't always easy. It certainly proved challenging when we were looking for resources for younger children but finding books for teenagers about this time period can also be difficult. 

Douglas Bond has published a book of historical fiction,War in the Wasteland, about 1917 in the trenches and nineteen year old Jack Lewis aka C.S. Lewis. This book helps to fill the gap.

The story is told from the perspective of  Nigel Hopkins, a young private who is under the command of the young officer, Lewis. This isn't the older Christian Lewis who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia but a young atheist officer. Lewis knew little about war and was very young. His first day in the trenches was his nineteenth birthday. 

The book takes the young recruits from embarking through training, battle in the trenches to injury and the hospital. The trenches were not pleasant places and the book does have some vivid descriptions of the horror of the latrines, the rats, the mud, the bodies and trench foot. Several of the book's characters die. However, I suspect that any description has to be less than the full horror of the situation. 

Scattered through the book are conversations between Lewis and his friend Second Lieutenant Johnson. Lewis was an atheist whereas Johnson was moving towards theism. These conversations are about the intellectual basis for atheism and a seeking for something, Someone, with meaning and beauty.  This book isn't a conversion story. Jack is not a Christian at the end of the book just a wondering atheist.

Is the book worth reading? Yes, definitely.
Who should read it? Adults and teenagers with an interest in the First World War and/or CS Lewis. 
Who shouldn't read this book? Young children. There are quite vivid descriptions of war and devastation such as when a bomb landed near a military cemetery. This isn't a book for precocious five year olds but I will be saving it for my younger children to read as teenagers and allowing older members of the family to read it. 

In the UK, War in the Wasteland is available from The Christian Bookshop, Ossett.

Disclaimer: We were given this book as a gift but I was not required to review it. The opinions are my own.

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  1. This sounds like a book our son would be interested in, as he has enjoyed Douglas Bond's other books. Thank you for sharing your review, Sarah.

    1. I guess that he will like War in the Wasteland too.

  2. Thank you for reviewing this Sarah. We will be covering world wars next year and I am after some quality literature for my older ones.

  3. Thanks for the review, Sarah. A reminder that there is s free study guide for War in the Wasteland at

    1. Thank you. I've just found the study guide and also the study guide for Mr Pipes. The latter will be particularly useful as we hope to study the period from 1600 to 1850 in history soon and the first Mr Pipes book will be one of our read-alongs.