There are 6 critical essays on The Machine Gunners.
Critical Essays on The Machine Gunners
Critical Essay by Robert Westall
1,676 words, approx. 6 pages
Ever since I wrote The Machine-gunners (and in spite of the fact that my last three books have been fantasies) people keep consulting me about realism in children's books. Rather as if I'd been appointed high priest and was being asked to read the entrails. There is not much career-structure for high priests who fail to read entrails, so I'd better come clean with what I think. (p. 34) Perhaps all the best books start by being written for only one child, and that child very close to you...
Critical Essay by Aidan Chambers
471 words, approx. 2 pages
[The Machine Gunners is] astonishingly good. (p. 438) [Gripping] though the events are, it is not so much what but the way and why it happens that is important in this book. (p. 439)
Critical Essay by Ralph Lavender
463 words, approx. 2 pages
The Watch House, set in the Robert Westall country of The Machine-Gunners, concerns Anne, who has been dumped like a lost parcel on Prudie, her mother's old nanny…. She becomes interested in the Watch House …, where there is a museum. The past begins to catch up with the present when Anne goes to dust the display cases there, and through her two unsettled ghosts begin to work towards their final emnity against each other…. It is a fast-moving, action-packed story written in a rac...
Critical Essay by Betty Baum
359 words, approx. 1 pages
The horrid, sordid aspects of the war are depicted [in The Machine Gunners] without sentimentality or sensationalism. Both children and adults are believable and the plot holds our interest. Unfortunately, the book loses some of its power and appeal because neither the adults nor the children stir our sympathy and affections. Only the German prisoner awakens any love or loyalty. A good book that might have been great. Betty Baum, "'The Machine Gunners'," in Children&...
Critical Essay by Margery Fisher
248 words, approx. 1 pages
I can think of few writers who have put on paper as successfully as Robert Westall has done in The Machine-Gunners the sheer muddle of [the Second World War] and the day-to-day difficulty, for civilians at least, of deciding what was important. This book has a remarkable authenticity of atmosphere. It would be wrong to recommend it as anything but a story but if young people want to know what the war was really like, this book should go some way towards telling them. (p. 2707) Robert Westall tells his story...
Critical Essay by Robert Bell
103 words, approx. 0 pages
The cunning, initiative and courage which [the boys in The Machine Gunners] show in carrying out their plan under the noses of the adults, as well as those of a suspicious rival gang, are totally convincing and most admirably recounted by [Robert Westall], whose insight into the boy mind places him in the William Golding league. (pp. 55-6) No better junior novel than this has appeared for a long time…. Indeed, adult readers would learn a great deal from it. (p. 56)
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