We need the voice of a witness to tell the unadulterated truth. We have it in the remarkable book.
— Michael Morpurgo
This book should be (and will be) in every school library.
— Lana Boztas, 'Teaching English'
Line of Fire is one of the most extraordinary - and beautiful - books about the First World War.
— Julia Eccleshare

An incredible discovery in a rubbish heap...

One winter's morning, French illustrator Barroux was walking down a street in Paris when he made an extraordinary discovery: the diary of a soldier in the First World War.

Barroux rescued the diary from the rubbish heap, took the diary back to his studio and subsequently illustrated the soldier's words. The result is a striking graphic novel adaptation of the soldier's moving and powerful account of war.

The diary was discovered along with a medal and a song lyrics in the back of the diary that continue until 1917. But there is no name in the diary - the name on the cover has long faded. He remains the unknown soldier. We just have his words, and it is in his own words and Barroux's extraordinary pictures that his story his told.

The diary recounts the first two months of the First World War, from the moment France declares war and mobilisation is announced, until early September 1914. Our soldier's diary tells of the long journeys and endless nights; the search for food and wine; the friendships and the courage in the trenches; the sound of gunfire and the pain of swollen feet; and a narrow escape.

In the words of Michael Morpurgo, who has written a special introduction to the book, this is ‘a witness statement, the untrammelled, unedited voice of someone who was there.’ This is one man's story silhouetted against the great backdrop of history and the events of 1914 that formed and transformed the world we live in today.

Amongst the many commemorations of The Great War this year, and several through comics and graphic novels, Line of Fire truly stands out as a remarkable piece.
— Paul Gravett

What do we know about our soldier?  

The soldier's diary does provide us with some clues as to his identity and his life on and off the battle field. Click on the soldier's original diary to find out more about life as a Poilu and the First World War form a French perspective.

Line of Fire in the classroom. View our teaching resources. 

Our teaching resources,  written by an experienced teacher and literacy consultant, are designed for cross-curricular use in the Key Stage 3 curriculum.  Learn how your school can get involved.

Line of Fire: the musical-drawing spectacle

Line of Fire has been adapted into a musical-drawing spectacle by Barroux and a musician friend.  Watch Barroux and Julien perform in this video.

During this spectacle, Barroux's live drawings are projected onto a large screen against a backdrop of Julien's music and Barroux reading the soldier's words.  

The spectacle has become a sell-out theatre show in France. Line of Fire the musical will be arriving in the UK later in 2014. Watch this space!


View sample pages from the book in our online gallery: