“Dunkirk” by Joshua Levine tells the harrowing story of the Allied evacuation from France during World War II. It is important to note, however, that the full title of this book is, in fact, “Dunkirk: The History Behind the Major Motion Picture”. While this book does, indeed, cover many of the stories surrounding the Dunkirk evacuation, there is also a significant portion of the book dedicated to discussing how the events of the evacuation were portrayed in the recent film by Christopher Nolan.
This does not, by any means, make this a bad book, however, I do feel it is important for readers approach the book having made this distinction. On the positive side, I did appreciate the history Levine supplies, and the stories he relates often provide the reader with a unique understanding of the experiences many Europeans endured during World War II. On the other hand, I also found the book to be rather disjointed at times, and it was not at all the history I had expected.
This is probably the best example of having to pay attention to a book’s subtitle that I have ever seen. Although history buffs will definitely get something out of this book, it will likely feel too fractured and filled with excess information to be worth your while. If you’ve seen the movie and want to know more about the characters and the inspiration behind their scenes, then this book would be more up your alley.
Overall, I would consider this book to be more of a cinematic than a history book. If you’re looking for more of a history of the evacuation of Dunkirk, then I’d say there are probably other books out there that are far more worth your while. While I did take something away from the book, and I couldn’t discount it entirely, in the end, I have to admit, I failed to read the fine print and ultimately walked away feeling somewhat duped.