“Private Peaceful” by Michael Morpurgo tells the moving story of two brothers, Charlie and Tommo Peaceful. It is set in England at the time of the First World War.
Morpurgo tells us that he got the idea for his story when he visited a war cemetery and read these names on a gravestone.
The book begins when the boys were young and gives lots of details of what family life was like in the early 1900's. Charlie, the older brother, has to go off to war and Tommo, who has always looked up to his big brother, lies about his age so that he can go too.
The central part of the book focuses on what life was like for these young soldiers. Training was often cruel but nothing can prepare them for the horrors of trench warfare. The descriptions of life and death are graphic. We find it impossible to understand the conditions these young men had to endure.
The book's dramatic climax comes when the brothers are trapped in a bomb crater in No Man's Land. Tommo has been injured and cannot move on. Read it and find out what happens when Charlie is given the order to go “over the top.”