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The Day the Cradle Rocked
When the Wind Blows - Raymond Briggs
Member Name: mcrouch
When the Wind Blows - Raymond Briggs
Date: 03/07/01, updated on 03/07/01 (769 review reads)
Advantages: Good artwork, powerful storyline, emotionally involving
Disadvantages: a bit bleak and depressing, may seem an outdated concept to some
Well actually, no, not really! The threat still exists. A growing number of politically unstable countries now have access to a nuclear arsenal. The true threat is probably bigger than ever. But it’s a new millennium and we don’t want to think about that, do we?
So let us settle down to a nice little picture story by that nice Raymond Briggs chap. You know, the bloke who wrote The Snowman, Father Christmas, Ethel and Ernest and the one that we’ve going to look at here, When the Wind Blows. They look like a nice old couple on the cover, don’t they? Ah yes, we’re on safe ground here.
Not quite sure what the American and Russian generals on the cover are there for though! And what is that big white flash behind them? It looks like a giant mushroom. And hang on, why is there a picture of a missile on pages four and five? Must be a printer’s error. Ah, here we are, back on page six. Nice English countryside and old James coming home from work to potter about in the shed while his ‘Ducks’ tends to the kitchen. Bit old fashioned, still, they probably still have their old wartime home front sensibilities. Which should hold them in good stead because there is a picture of some A10 Thunderbolt warplanes on pages ten and eleven. And a nuclear submarine on pages fourteen and fifteen. And on pages eighteen and nineteen … nothing! Nothing but white.
Yes, you’ve guessed it, When the Wind Blows is the s
tory of how one couple struggle to survive and overcome the enormity of nuclear war. No snowmen or Santa Claus here. This is a moving, emotional and ultimately devastating look at the pointlessness of such a war and just how inadequate we would all be in the face of it. There are no villains here, no words exchanged across the political and cultural divides. We never get to find out what the war was all about, but then given the consequences, it doesn’t really matter. The love of the Jim and Hilda Bloggs shines throughout the story and there are nicely added depths of humour. As the Daily Mail commented back in 1986, “this is the most eloquent anti-Bomb statement you are likely to read”. And the Sunday Times; “A visual parable against nuclear war: all the more chilling for being in the form of a strip cartoon”.
The book is charming in places, disturbingly bleak in others. It is engrossing, but if you are after a happy story, look elsewhere. There are no happy ever afters in this tale. One critic commented that this was a book that we should all force ourselves to read. That is no less true now than it was back then when it was first published. This is a horror story in it'’ very truest sense.
It is hard to sell a book with this sort of content but I can assure you that it is a worthwhile read. It has a great depth of humanity and moments of levity which help alleviate the bleaker tones of the book. It may seem like an out-dated idea now but it still holds many truths about the world we live in. Not that it could ever come true, of course. I mean, that was the 1980’s. We’re living in the 21st century now. Times have changed.
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