The Machine Gunners

The Machine Gunners

3.9 (1,783 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback
By (author) 

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'Some bright kid's got a gun and 2000 rounds of live ammo. And that gun's no peashooter. It'll go through a brick wall at a quarter of a mile.'

Chas McGill has the second-best collection of war souvenirs in Garmouth, and he desperately wants it to be the best. When he stumbles across the remains of a German bomber crashed in the woods - its shiny, black machine-gun still intact - he grabs his chance. Soon he's masterminding his own war effort with dangerous and unexpected results....

'.... not just the best book so far written for children about the Second World War, but also a metaphor for now.' Aidan Chambers, Times Literary Supplement
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 129 x 197 x 15mm | 169g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0330397850
  • 9780330397858
  • 45,580

Review quote

"Seat-of-the-pants suspense. Westall's writing is smashing throughout."--" Kirkus Reviews" (starred review)"The pace is unrelenting."--" Booklist" (starred review)
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About Robert Westall

More than a decade after his death, Robert Westall retains his reputation as one of the most powerful writers for children. He was awarded two Carnegie Medals (for The Machine-Gunners and The Scarecrows) and used his own childhood experiences of the Second World War in his books.
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Rating details

1,783 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 31% (556)
4 37% (662)
3 24% (429)
2 6% (104)
1 2% (32)

Our customer reviews

This is an extraordinary book, which should be read by adults as well as children. It is not extraordinary because of the central plot, which after all is fairly straightforward. It is extraordinary for two other reasons. First, Westall has captured the wonderful normalising capacity of children. These children live alongside death and the threat of death. Theirs is a violent world. And, while they are clearly bruised in some ways, they do their best to take it in stride. They speak almost casually of the deaths of friends and community members, because to do otherwise - to confront the true gravity of events - would have been overwhelming. Second, this is an extraordinary book because each of the main (child) characters splendidly protrays one of the basic stereotypes of home-front Britain. Chas is a juvenile version of the "dependable Tommy", Cem is the cheerful working class Brit, Clogger the strong silent type, Nicky the stiff-upper-lip gentleman (or what passes for such in Garmouth), and tom-boying Audrey, who will "only do kissing" is the younger sister of the girl who goes off to do 'men's work' in the munition factories all day then to the dance halls at night. And yet, despite representing stereotypes, the characters are maintained well enough that you hardly ever notice (and certainly never regret). I also enjoyed the fact that Westall does not squib the ending. If this was an American book, it would have all turned out right in the end, with some sort of patriotic moral to the story. I won't spoil the ending for those who are yet to read the book ... but Westall does not take the easy way out. Highly recommended. And never mind the suggestion that the book contains a lot of violence. It does ... but less than 5 minutes on any first-person-shooter video more
by Anthony Marinac
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