My brother’s keeper

Publisher: Bloomsbury
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​(Tom and Tony Bradman, Bloomsbury, £5.99) As is to be expected during this centenary year, there is certainly no shortage of new publications at the moment around the topic of World War I, from exposition and analysis, to fiction in all its forms; teachers looking for literature through which to engage their students with this subject are suddenly more spoilt for choice than ever. Amongst all the weighty and impressive tomes available, however, this slim little paperback, in which father and son team Tom and Tony Bradman tell the story of Alfie Barnes who signs up for the army aged just 15, is an outstanding example of writing that could well do more than most in terms of enabling teenagers of today to understand a little of what war really meant for soldiers caught up in the 1914-18 conflict. Shocking in its immediacy and painfully raw at time – but never either gratuitous or sentimental – it’s a truly powerful piece of narrative, and all the more so for being published in partnership with the National Archives.