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Kipling's choice
Book
2005
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

Gr. 7-10. It is his very first field battle. And his very last as well. First published in Belgium, this fictionalized biography begins as Lt. John Kipling, age 18, lies dying in France in World War I. The narrative contrasts the gruesome details of his personal injuries and the slaughter around him with his glowing memory of how his beloved father, the world-famous writer, used his influence to get the authorities to overlook John's poor eyesight so that he could fight in a glorious adventure for the British Empire against barbaric Huns. Like Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful (2004), the power of this story is in the contrast between the war and the home front. The translation is clear and direct, and, without heavy messages, the changing viewpoints reveal the patriotic blather and racism that drove the acclaimed writer to send the boy he loved to die in a war he knew nothing about. The family story is heartfelt--the letters, the memories, and the loss. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2005 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

"John Kipling was just one small officer in the Great War," the war to end all wars. He was 18 years old in his first and last battle. He was the only son of the world-famous author, Rudyard Kipling, who pulled strings to get John into the army. "Perfectly timed," Rudyard thought of the war. "Here was John's chance." Moreover, Kipling's wartime writing rallied the nation, his verses like oil on the fire. Second Lieutenant Kipling suffers horrific injuries as part of the Irish Guards in France, and Spillebeen's grim narrative tells the alternating stories of John's death throes and how he ended up a soldier in the first place. His death breaks his father, who's horrified at what he has done. "How many boys have I written into the grave," he wonders. This powerful anti-war novel, made even more powerful by its roots in a famous author's real life and his evolution from war zealot to embittered, broken father, deserves a place beside All Quiet on the Western Front. (epilogue, bibliography) (Fiction. 12+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
On the verge of World War I, author Rudyard Kipling's son, John, like his father before him, wanted to fight for his country.But when John's military application was threatened, Rudyard took matters into his own hands, applying all his influence to allow his son to fight in the Great War.And the teenager who had lived his life in comfort and whose greatest concern had been pleasing his father now faced a much greater challenge-staying alive in his first battle.
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