Suggested Read: War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s most recent film, War Horse, hit theaters on December 25th in the US and January 13th in the UK.  In the short amount of time since its release, The Telegraph reports that War Horse has taken in $67,338,000 in North America and £ 3,940,000 in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The success of the film can be attributed to its adaptation from the novel, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. Published in 1982, The New York Times described the book as,

“a slim, powerful children’s book about a young man and his beloved horse on the front lines of World War I.”

While it is a story intended for children, War Horse explores the life of horses and cavalries in World War I.  In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Morpurgo said,

“I came across a picture by one FW Reed, painted in 1917, of British cavalry horses in the First World War charging up a hill towards the German positions, towards the wire. Some were already entangled in it…I telephoned the Imperial War Museum and asked if they knew how many horses had been killed in the First World War. A million or more, they told me, and that was just in the British army; probably eight million horses died on all sides…The more deeply I researched, the more I read of the plight of these creatures who were after all only doing our bidding, the more determined I became to write the story of one of them. But in the writing of it I knew I had to tell the story of the soldiers of both sides at the front, and of the families, and people in France and Belgium, whose villages and farms were turned into battlefields.”

If you have already read War Horse or have seen the film, we would love to hear your thoughts on both.

For more information on cavalries during World War I, we suggest the following titles:

The Affair at Néry

Horsemen in No Man's Land

Fifteen Rounds A Minute

2 thoughts on “Suggested Read: War Horse

  1. I purchased a book in France several years ago entitled ‘Le Secret de Grandpere’ by Michael Morpurgo, translated from English. In the book, I recognised the story of Joey the farm horse,which forms only a part of the story, but the details of Joey’s experiences in the Great War are described clearly and now form a major part of the film War Horse.Much has been made of the book War Horse, but no-one has mentioned this book, Le Secret de Grandpere,translated from Michael Morpurgo’s original book Farm Boy.

    So, was War Horse extrapolated from the book Farm Boy (Le secret de Grandpere) or incorporated into it?

    I’d love to know.

    Ceri Wells

  2. Hi Ceri,
    After some investigation, it seems as if ‘Le Secret de Grand Pere’ is the sequel to War Horse. Morpurgo said that children kept on asking him about the fate of Joey after he returned from the war, so he decided to write an epilogue of sorts about it.

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