Book Review: Joshua Levine ‘Dunkirk’

Joshua Levine "Dunkirk" book cover

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Companion piece books for films can at times make for ‘interesting’ reading. Over the years they have certainly morphed from the old ‘picture book’ style that was around when I was a kid. I can still remember the Batman and Terminator 2 film companion books that sat on my shelf. One was just pages and pages of shots of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in their famous roles, the only words were things like ‘Batman (Michael Keaton) faces off with the Joker (Jack Nicholson)’ as a caption under the photos. The other was just shrine to the action man himself Arnold Schwarzneggar.

Over the years though things have changed a little, in recent years the companion books for Twilight and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them changed things up with detailed writings and sketches from the wardrobe compartment etc while the companion book from the television series The Bill took everything to a whole new level – even including key props (such as search warrants and letters etc) that readers could remove from the book, hold and read.

Now comes one of the best film companion books that you are ever likely to read – Dunkirk by Joshua Levine. Just like the feature film, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance , this is a book that is a whole new league of its own and is only enhanced if you have watched the film as well.

Levine takes his audience on a journey as he seems to dissect the events of Dunkirk in 1940 with precise descriptions that are so vivid that certainly stick with you. A quick flick through the book and seeing scores of names and dates might make you wonder whether or not the book feels like you are reading a text book rather than a novel but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a book that you quickly become quickly engrossed with as Devine dissection sees him look at the three key aspects of Dunkirk – air, sea and land – in a way that very few authors have done in the past. Mark my words when I say that this is the most in-depth look at this moment of world history that you will ever come across.

While the eyewitness accounts of the events of Dunkirk make Levine’s book a must-read for war aficionados it is the fascinating discussion that he holds with the legendary Christopher Nolan that is quickly going to win over film fans. The interview printed in this book should silence any critic who has been sceptical of why Nolan made the film about Dunkirk. The discussion sees Nolan talk about what the event means to him and about his own personal trip to Dunkirk before he declares that he never wanted the film to be ‘a war film, he wanted it to be a survival film.’ That interview in itself is a must read for any cinema lovers out there.

Joshua Levine has delivered an absolutely sensational look at the events of Dunkirk, a war event that is now getting the recognition around the world that it has always deserved. While the book is clinical at times it is still a gripping read that truly captures an important moment in world history.

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