A Game of Soldiers
by Jan Needle
Originally written as a TV serial, A Game of Soldiers caused a storm of Government anger when ITV refused to pull it from the schedules. Shortly afterwards, it was nominated for a Bafta award, and publishers scrambled for the novelisation rights. HarperCollins won.
Thirty years on, and despite the fact that the conflict was famously described as ‘two bald men fighting over a comb,’ the British the Argentine governments are both making belligerent noises again. The fact that neither has a navy big enough to do much about it any more makes it perhaps more poignant. Or ridiculous.
Brief and fast moving, the novel tells the story of three Falkland Islands friends who find a badly injured Argentine conscript hiding out in one of the lonely places in the ‘camp’ (countryside) where they go to play. All their games these days are games of soldiers. There is nothing else to do.
Woken by the sounds of battle the night before, they have all been warned by their parents not to roam too far from home. Terrified when they stumble on the soldier, who is not many years older than they are themselves, they quickly get carried away by the possibilities.
He is an invader in their land. He has been shooting at their soldiers. He is the enemy, and trained to kill. So after not much argument, they decide that they must kill him first. It is their patriotic duty.
How to do it, though? What tools or weapons do they have to overwhelm him with? And when they start to speak with him – the language barrier notwithstanding – can they continue to see him as somehow less than human?
- Skinback Books, July 2012
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