Dunkirk by Joshua Levine

Rate: 2/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):  Throughout my life I’ve been intrigued by the events surrounding WWII and have read countless stories ranging from nonfiction to historical fiction surrounding this time frame.  A few months ago when commercials pushing the newest the Christopher Nolan movie about Dunkirk were plastered everywhere, I became intrigued because I had never heard of this battle or town.  My knowledge based during time period is firmly rooted after the Americans declared war, with a general understanding of events leading up the the war as well.  As such, I was intrigued to learn more about this early battle and subsequent evacuation.  Checking my local library, I had assumed that this title by Levine must have been the inspiration behind the movie so I promptly signed up for the holds list.  Unfortunately, Levine had written this book as an accompaniment to the movie, of which he was serving as a consultant.  Dunkirk even opened with an interview from Nolan talking about his inspiration behind developing the movie and ended with additional insight regarding the making of the movie. The book offered a fascinating account of the details leading up the the evacuation and the political mood that suffused Britain at the time, however the anecdotes of specific people were often scattered and jumbled without a clear direction. This effect resulted in me feeling lost on and off for the majority of the book.  Half way through, Luke and I watched the movie because I thought it might clear up some of my confusion surrounding the key players and events. I’m positively baffled as to how the movie version of Dunkirk has such high ratings. Sure the imagery was beautiful, but it consisted of approximately two hours of very little happening. Specifically, every image of the beach showed the soldiers standing in orderly lines, whereas from the book’s description it actually was mass chaos. Also, the movie failed to convey the vast number of soldiers that were trying to be evacuated, which ranged on just under half a million. The five minutes of Dunkirk from the movie Atonement seem to connect on a deeper level as to what would be more representative of the actual events, while relaying significantly more information to the audience than Nolan’s Dunkirk as a whole. While it appears my my book review has now morphed into a movie review, it seems appropriate due to Levine’s book spent significant time discussing the movie and decisions that were made within the context of filming. Overall, this account (and movie) of Dunkirk can be safely avoided, with the hope that there are other, better developed and detailed histories  available.


    • Hey Wendy! How interesting that your dad was an RCAF tailgunner! My husband’s grandfathers were both in the War with one driving a tank from Africa to Germany and the other flying a B29 and ending up in a POW camp. It’s interesting that the War never intrigued you. One of the fascinating things about humans how different topics appeal to us on varying levels!


  1. The film will be nominated for serval technical achievements, Cinematography, sound effects, sound period, and musical score. I suspect it will also be nominated for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    That said – even being in the business I do not find the books that come out about behind the scenes and such very interesting.

    Two books I would recommend on the subject, one about the event, the second what happened to those left behind.

    “The Miracle of Dunkirk” – Walter Lord and “Dunkirk – The Men They Left Behind” – Sean Longden

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the book recommendations Guy! I will need to look into them. I’d love to read more about the details of the actual event.

      I agree that this movie should and likely will be nominated for technical achievements but in no way (in my opinion) should it win or probably be even nominated for Best Picture. Because of all the hype I’d been so surprised at the slow pace and lack of content. Have you seen it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve only watched pieces of it. I believe the cinematography is what is driving it for awards. Though many have it on the Best Pic possibly list. Remember, they can have up to 10 now. If there were only five give it may be a different story. We will see soon.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I had assumed that the book was the inspiration behind the movie based on the title. Similar to how many nonfiction books inspire directors to make a movie about a specific event in history. This movie is definitely not based on any one book.

      Have you seen the movie?


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