Truce by Jim Murphy (2009)
Information, 144 pages
Through a well-explained backdrop, Murphy sets the scene of World War I and what became known as the Great War, for its trench warfare with modernized weaponry and lack of defensive measures that led to millions of casualties. In Truce, Murphy shares an objective view that shows all parties’ men honored to go to war, somewhat naively, before realizing that this would not be a simple fight or an easy win. After months of muddy and unsanitary conditions, soldiers found that war was not the glorious image they had in mind. While generals and commanders on both sides of the line ordered their men not to fraternize with the enemy, Christmas approached and a miracle occurred: soldiers defied orders and offered a temporary truce to celebrate the holiday and bury the dead. While the truce did not occur completely down the line, hundreds of thousands of men postponed fighting. Many found themselves in No Man’s Land, wishing their enemies peace and realizing that neither group of soldiers wanted war any longer, but the war would continue until politicians and reigning leaders brought it to an end. With sepia toned photographs and illustrations, Murphy drives home the hardship of the war and beauty in the short respite as enemies socialized and shook hands on Christmas of 1914. In larger print, the narrative captivatingly draws the reader into that December miracle and uses soldiers’ quotes from journals and letters on both sides, showing the wonder of peace. In the epilogue, Murphy makes a modern connection between WWI and the Iraq War, urging future generations to consider negotiations of peace and prohibition of propaganda use in order to avoid risking many innocent lives. With its timeline, easy to follow prose, and recommended further reading, Truce offers younger readers the opportunity to explore war through a different lens, examining “The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est, / Pro patria mori”.
Owen, Wilfred. “Dulce et Decorum est” 1917