Animals in war… editorial by Hantie Braybrook*
War programmes are not usually my cup of tea but I plucked up the courage to watch the repeat broadcasting of Band of Brothers and from there The Pacific and now the Generation Kill series. Though it was difficult to watch at times - I still haven’t been able to pick up a book about personal war experiences or combat situations. What I have been able to read is stories about animals in war situations. Even in stories (real and fiction) animals seems to break past that wall of dread and fear and engage our emotions with their openness, loyalty and bravery. Dogs feature prominently in this kind of literature.
What is the appeal of this genre?
The strong bonds people form with animals are deeply emotional and are often a central theme in these stories. And then there is the animal’s unconditional love, non-judgemental acceptance, loyalty, bravery and protection beyond reason, comforting, giving their caretakers a reason to live for / hang on in desperate situations, respect earned and given.
The unknown outcome of everyone entering the war zone adds to the intensity. You experience the ‘adventure’, get to know about life during times of war– both those of soldiers and civilians. The personality of the animals and the mischief they and their companions get up to add charm to what could otherwise be a harrowing tale. Happy endings, when it happens, are especially satisfying. What is also fascinating is how the animals are trained and how they perform under the intense pressure of combat situations.
The subtitle on the cover of The dog that saved my life sums it up: ‘Sacrifice. Loyalty. Love beyond all bounds.’ Those are the qualities that bring me back to this genre time and again.Dogs at war by Blythe Hamer; The four legged major by Graham Spencer;Caesar the Anzac dog by Patricia Stroud; From Baghdad with love by Jay Kopelman; Nubs by Brian Dennis et al;Freedom in the air by Hamish Ross; Silent heroes by Evelyn le Chene; Animal heroes by Anthony Hill.
* Hantie is Specialist Librarian – Information Services at Glenfield Library.
This month’s selection is from Patricia Kay.
As the earth turns silver : a novel by Alison Wong
The children's book by A. S. Byatt
Good to a fault by Marina Endicott
The elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa
An equal stillness by Francesca Kay
In hovering flight by Joyce Hinnefeld
Share your best reads … just send a list of titles to Ann