I needed to see what it had been like for them. I did not want to glorify or to damn them. I had to appreciate their courage and their spirit; but I coud not ignore parts of their histories that were distressing or disquieting.
Our Boys brings to life the human experiences of the paratroopers who fought in the Falklands War, and examines the long aftermath of that conflict. It is a first in many ways – a social and cultural history of the Parachute Regiment, a group with an elite and aggressive reputation; a study of close-quarters combat on the Falklands Islands; and an exploration of the many legacies of this short and symbolic war.
Told unflinchingly through the experiences of the people who lived through it, Our Boys shows how the Falklands conflict began to change Britain’s relationship with its soldiers, and our attitudes to trauma and war itself. It is also the story of one particular soldier: the author’s uncle, who was killed during the conflict, and whose fate has haunted both the author an his fellow paratroopers ever since.
About the author
Helen Parr is a historian of contemporary Britain. She has always been drawn to stories that don’t quite fit in; and has always been interested in how Britain’s place in the world affects people’s lives. She grew up in Suffolk, County Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne; and studied history at Cambridge and Queen Mary College, University of London. She teaches at Keele University and lives near Stoke-on-Trent. Her essay, The Eurosceptics’ Moment, was co-winner of the inaugural Hennessy Essay Prize.
This is an extraordinary book. It is partly about the Falklands War itself and the terrible things that the Paras endured, and the terrible things that some of them did, but it is also about the white working class of the 1970s and why some men born into this class ended up marching across an island that most of them had never heard of. Thoughtful and sometimes heart-breaking, if I had to recommend one book about the British Army since the Second World War, and perhaps, for that matter, one book about British society in the 1980s, this would be it.
Richard Vinen, author of National Service and Thatcher's Britain
This beautifully written, intensely poignant book in which the life and death of Helen Parr's nineteen year old uncle Dave, killed on Wireless Ridge above Port Stanley on the very last day of the Falklands War, is set carefully in the context of Britain's twentieth century military, political and social history. It will leave a real mark on the minds of those who read it. She has done her uncle Dave more than proud.
Peter Hennessy, author of The Prime Minister; The Secret State; and Having it so Good: Britain in the Fifties
An outstanding account of soldiers, the Falklands and masculinity... there can be few better books about fighting men in all their bravery, terror and shame.
Ian Jack, The Guardian
News & Events
Realities of a Shared War: Helen Parr and Lt General Cedric Delves in conversation with Major General Arthur Denaro, at the National Army Museum: https://www.nam.ac.uk/whats-on/falklands-1982-realities-shared-war
Helen talks about Our Boys at Blackwell’s bookshop in Newcastle upon Tyne
Helen talks about the book at the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the Study of War, 6-7.30pm at the Great Hall, King’s College London. A podcast of Helen’s lecture can be found here:https://soundcloud.com/warstudies [scroll down on the page to find the lecture]
Helen Parr and Cedric Delves in conversation with Arthur Denaro at the Hay Festival https://www.hayfestival.com/p-14644-helen-parr-and-cedric-delves-in-conversation-with-arthur-denaro.aspx
Helen talks about ‘Remembering the Dead: bodies, cemeteries and mourning’ at the Westminster Theatre, Keele University
Helen talks about her book at Pewsey Military History Society.
Helen talks to Sam Leith at the Spectator Books podcast https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/09/books-podcast-life-and-death-in-the-falklands-and-what-happens-after/
Helen talks about her book on Radio 4’s Start the Week. Listen again at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bh423z
The Observer feature Our Boys: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/26/falklands-war-retold-helen-parr-our-boys