When the Wind Blows

by Raymond Briggs

Paperback, 1988

Status

Available

Call number

BRI

Publication

Penguin Books (1988), Paperback, 48 pages

User reviews

LibraryThing member iftyzaidi
Written in 1982 as the Cold War was once again reaching fever pitch, this is an affecting story of an elderly couple living out in the countryside when nuclear war breaks out. The couple reassures itself that they will be able to survive just as they did during the blitz in World War 2 and that the 'authorities' will look after them. All they have to do is follow the instructions on governmental pamphlets about how to prepare for and survive a nuclear war. The naivete and faith in their government and their 'scientific' advice is both touching and heart-breaking. As Joe Bloggs, keeps remarking when trying to follow the sometimes nonsensical instructions, "Ours is not to reason why..." but he doesn't recall what line came next in the poem. The story follows the two as they struggle to retain a semblance of normality in their lives after the bomb, even as they slowly succumb to the effects of fallout.

This is a dark tale, where the humour and warmth of the central characters is eclipsed by the events in the world around them. One can't help but respond with anger at the powers-that-be that so readily exploited such innocence and good will to bring the world so close to nuclear holocaust during the Cold War. An outstanding short graphic novel.
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LibraryThing member nbmars
When the Wind Blows is a 1982 graphic novel depicting a nuclear attack on Britain by the USSR from the point of view of a benighted retired couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs. Although some reviewers have complained that it is dated because the Cold War is over, I think one can easily imagine the same scenario with a different set of combatants. That must be the case, because I found it very frightening to read!

The pictures (up to 30 panels a page) are mesmerizing and the text is at turns humorous, poignant, and horrifying. I don’t think it spoils it to tell you that in the end, the couple dies of radiation poisoning. The story and the graphics are memorable whether you know what ultimately is to happen or not. This cautionary tale is similar to, but actually scarier than the dystopic books by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I highly recommend it for all those out there who are in dread of an apocalypse; Briggs has captured one brilliantly.
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LibraryThing member kristenn
Inspired by a few recent raves in talk threads here, I ordered this from the library. Had never heard of it.

The Day After gave me nightmares in junior high and the Berlin Wall came down during college, so this story was a chilly blast from the past. It's an equally vivid portrait of the British character of a certain era.

Although surprisingly short (40 pages), the story is quite dense with many small panels and takes longer to read than expected, although still just one sitting.

Suspense is built by the reader knowing far more about what will happen than the characters do. They're not a particularly bright couple, and the husband is a little too prone to malapropisms, like a less cranky Crankshaft. That gimmick gets old. The interjected 'Meanwhile...' splash pages are also more distracting than distressing. But especially in the second half of the book, there is some genuine tension, with so many grim possibilities looming.

After reading, I handed this off to someone younger, who neither remembers the Cold War nor has read/watched anything about it (or much of anything post-apocalyptic) and also has little knowledge of British culture, slang, etc. He set it aside halfway through as just too unfamiliar to follow. But I think it's still accessible to many.

Separate from the plot, it was interesting to observe that although the husband's retirement-based leisure is cheerily remarked upon more than once, the wife is always performing some sort of household chore. Not sure whether that was an additional dig by the author though.
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LibraryThing member johnthefireman
A classic anti-war tale in comic form. It ridicules (and rightly so) the instructions given by the UK government on what to do in case of a nuclear attack. The ending is very poignant, as the dying characters wait obediently for "the authorities" to come and rescue them.
LibraryThing member librarybrandy
The creator of The Snowman brings us this short graphic novel account of a retired British couple preparing for the apocalypse. Jim has picked up a brochure from the public library on how best to build and stock a shelter, and immediately sets about doing so. His wife is either long-suffering or equally dim; I'm pretty sure it's the latter. Anyway, Jim paints over the windows and builds a makeshift shelter using the doors, as per the library brochure, and together he and his wife stock food in their little shelter, too (after a brief panic that the brochure says to stock peanut butter and they don't have any, because neither of them likes it). Suddenly there's a war on, and Jim's preparations pay off.

Somehow this straddles a line between goofy and sad--you roll your eyes at Jim and Hilda, at their sweet dottiness, but your heart breaks for them when things go down the way they do.

Not something I'd hand to the average teen, but older, more sophisticated readers will appreciate this story, particularly if they grew up with The Snowman. Readalikes: Z for Zachariah (O'Brien) or Barefoot Gen for the aftermath of nuclear war, Gentleman Jim (Briggs) for an earlier story with these characters.
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LibraryThing member theboylatham
Seven out of ten.
When The Wind Blows is a singularly unrelenting satire on the true worth of civil defence in any genuine nuclear holocaust. The two protagonists, naive and trusting 'ordinary' people, follow the instructions to the letter, as though it were the Battle of Britain once again, and die slowly in horror and bewilderment.… (more)
LibraryThing member ElizaJane
Reason for Reading: I was posting a review on another site when this book was recommended for me. I'd never heard of it before but since I love apocalyptic books and Brigg's Snowman is a treasured favourite I knew I had to read it..

The only reason this book doesn't get a full five star rating from me is that it does show it's age and is a product of its times. This is a sad, despairing, dark book lightened with black humour. It packs quite the punch and at the time it was written during the Cold War, when the Russian threat of Nuclear War was a real threat the book''s impact would have been even more chilling. One must first note that *this is NOT a book for children*. Briggs takes us from just before the announcement that a nuclear bomb is likely to be aimed at Britain to several days after the impact. At the centre is an innocent rural WWII survivor couple who don't understand all of modern day's technologies and still believe in the government taking care of its citizens. They have pamphlets, issued by the government, on how to cope during a nuclear attack and trust in them as they would the word of God, while in reality it's all rather useless and though they survive the bomb they unknowingly waste away from radiation poisoning. Their innocent banter between each other is compelling and heartrending and yet one must also place oneself in the past to the era the book was written in for it to be believable.

The book is still relevant today, however. While Russia is not the big threat anymore, there are any number of smaller countries in today's world that have the ability to "push the button" and cause the same scenario of dealing with the fall out. While I think the innocence of this couple no longer exists in today's jaded world, it does make one realize the precious, innocent, beauty of Creation in all its aspects: human, animal and plant. This is a powerful, poetic book. I'm very glad to have discovered it.
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LibraryThing member dutchmarbel
Beautifully drawn, great story of how a simple middle aged British couple tries to survive a nucleair attack. Very touching.
LibraryThing member eclecticdodo
I picked this up on our weekly trip to the library, it immediately caught my attention on a display at the entrance, although another patron did try to warn me off that it is too depressing. I can't believe I've never heard of it before. In graphic novel form, with artwork very similar to that of his most famous children's book The Snowman, we follow a couple as they make preparations and live through the early days of nuclear war. It takes the mickey out of contradictory and completely pointless advice that was given around the time of publication (1982). It is rather bleak, but I like bleak. I don't suppose nuclear war is much less likely these days than it was 30 years ago, more so perhaps. Happy thoughts....… (more)
LibraryThing member sometimeunderwater
Harrowing and beautiful. Won't lie, shed a wee tear.
LibraryThing member mrgan
One of the best comics I've read. Perfect in every way.

Original publication date

1982

ISBN

0140094199 / 9780140094190

Other editions

Call number

BRI
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