My Boy Jack

by Brad Nelson  11/4/13
I watched a rather better-than-average PBS movie a while ago called My Boy Jack which was about the story of Rudyard Kipling’s son desperately wanting to join the war against the Hun in WWI.

I don’t know how closely this was based on real life, but I’m assuming it was. Daniel Radcliffe as John Kipling (the son) was adequate, by the way. And David Haig as Rudyard Kipling was splendid. Well done, old man.

Here’s the storyline from

English gentleman author Rudyard Kipling, famous for the Jungle Book, uses his considerable influence, being on a War Office propaganda think tank, to get his nearly 18 year-old son John ‘Jack’, admitted for military service during World war I after he is repeatedly refused on account of his bad eyesight. He is enrolled in the Irish Guards: their patriotic dream but mother and sister’s nightmare. After a short officer training course Jack gets command of a platoon and embarks in France. Soon, and just after his 18th birthday, his unit suffers terrible losses and Jack is reported missing. Now mother Caroline ‘Carry’ Kipling proves unstoppable pushing Rudyard’s influence and half of England to help find out the truth. When it finally comes, there is far less glory than gore and guilt.

What is shocking about the film is the apparent gusto that men had to join what could only be called organized murder. There is such thing as upholding honor. But you can go crazy with that too. Perhaps one can understand today’s sissified Europe. They’ve swung the pendulum from too much honor for honor’s sake to a continent that now believes in little except believing in nothing.

Your best bet for finding this one is probably on where you can get a used DVD for $3.00. Apparently this movie is based upon a book by Tonie  and Valmai Holt. • (797 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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6 Responses to My Boy Jack

  1. Kung Fu Zu says:

    You have to remember that WWI broke out when nationalism had reached it’s peak in Europe. Germany and Italy had only become nations some 40 years prior to the war and imperialism was a sign of the superiority of Western European culture and technology.

    When the war broke out, there was general euphoria throughout the combatants. Even the Socialists, who had called for international labor to unite against the capitalists across Europe, got carried away and dropped all pretense of international brotherhood and each country’s socialist party pretty much backed its nation in war. Of course, the Bolsheviks and some anarchists didn’t.

    As seems to be the case with many wars, most people thought the war would be over quickly. Nobody seemed to foresee how the war played out with the horror of modern weapons being used against outdated tactics.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Maybe you can recommend a good book on that era, Mr. Kung. Yes, certainly there must have been pretty hot nationalism going in that day and age to let one stupid assassination escalate into wholesale slaughter. As you said, they seemed to have no inkling for what would happen when old battle field tactics met modern weaponry.

      I guess we Americans can’t turn up our nose too much at the stupid Europeans who can’t seem to find a healthy balance between too much nationalism and too much Communist-style internationalism. We are becoming like them too. In fact, the dumbest argument for socialized medicine is the old canard of “We are the last major democracy not to have it.” Well, let me tell such ignorant people about the concept of American Exceptionalism…

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” would be a good place to start.

        This is a very broad subject which really goes back to the defeat of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. It ties in with scientific progress throughout the 19th century. If you wish to read something about that, I suggest Paul Johnson’s “The Birth of the Modern”.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War is also an interesting study. Martin Gilbert’s account includes a lot of the poetry (it’s one of 3 books I have that includes “In Flanders Fields”), though I’m skeptical of some of his statistics. In addition, there are a number of very fine works on specific campaigns or theaters. (I imagine very few people would ever expect that the first naval action of World War I was the bombardment of Serbian forts defending Belgrade by Austro-Hungarian river monitors.)

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Yes, there was definitely a pacifistic reaction after World War I, seen in books such as All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen Nichts Neues, though the English version makes the irony at the end more poignant), the vote at an English university that they would NOT go to war again for “king and country”, and the Maginot Line mentality. When war came again they fought anyway, but no doubt reacted pacifistically again, and this time with nothing that quite pushed against it. (The fact that pacifism is linked to leftism, and thus sympathy for Communism, probably helped during the Cold War. This was intensified mostly at long range by observing Korea and even more so Vietnam. ) By the time militant Islam came along, reflexive adherence to diversity and loss of confidence in their own civilization made resistance virtually impossible for most.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Good points. But I’ve never associated “pacifism” (at least as practiced these days) with any desire to avoid war. It was, and I think is, a sort of Paulbotian self-loathing with multiculturalist undertones. Remember those “pacifists” who equated Bush with Hitler and yet said not a word against Saddam? Those weren’t pacifists. Those were idiotic Leftists dressed up in pacifist clothing.

      The real kind of pacifism was shown by Gandhi. They stood in front of the British army and passively dared them to do violence. They put their money where their mouth was. And there’s no way such pacifism would work with Saddam Hussein or other monsters and perhaps today’s “pacifists” know this and really don’t care because denigrating America and the West is their real purpose.

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