Myers, Mitzi "Storying War: A Capsule Overview"
The Lion and the Unicorn - Volume 24, Number 3, September 2000, pp. 327-336
The Johns Hopkins University Press

What counts as a representation of war? What kinds of war stories have found favor over time? What trends emerge, and what genres and themes appear worldwide? War stories encompass varied fictional genres and perspectives, as well as quasi-fictional autobiographical accounts; settings include not just the actual war zone but also the home front (as in World War II's many hiding out stories); war's aftermath at home or conflicts of the future are related topics. Tales featuring armed conflict, usually from an anti-war perspective, as in "Things by Their Right Names" and "The Price of a Victory" in Anna Letitia Barbauld and John Aikin's Evenings at Home (1792-96), have contributed to juvenile literature since its late-eighteenth-century takeoff. The American Civil War starred in many children's magazines; adventure tales, usually nationalistic, were popular in the later nineteenth century, an approach that also resurfaces during the earlier years of twentieth-century wars. Although war stories are sometimes categorized as pure adventure or combat zone tales, they are inherently didactic: they inculcate patriotic moral values or, more often, question the morality of war. Most are variants on the oldest adult genre borrowed by children, the Robinson Crusoe survival story, often directly alluded to within texts, as in Uri Orlev, The Island on Bird Street (1981, trans. Hillel Halkin, 1984). Although tales may be overtly aimed at boys or girls, war stories are read across genders, and war activities frequently allow fictional protagonists (like real-life girl readers) participation in heroic activities, from nursing under fire to escaping enemy pursuers.
Captain W. E. Johns's Biggles books are set in both twentieth-century wars and are still avidly read. Johns remarks of his flying hero that he may...