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The Children's Story [Hardcover]

James Clavell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, June 1 1982 --  
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Book Description

June 1 1982
It was a simple incident in the life of James Clavell—a talk with his young daughter just home from school—that inspired this chilling tale of what could happen in twenty-five quietly devastating minutes. He writes, "The Children's Story came into being that day. It was then that I really realized how vulnerable my child's mind was —any mind, for that matter—under controlled circumstances. Normally I write and rewrite and re-rewrite, but this story came quickly—almost by itself. Barely three words were changed. It pleases me greatly because I kept asking the questions…

Questions like, What's the use of 'I pledge allegiance' without understanding? Like Why is it so easy to divert thoughts? Like What is freedom? and Why is so hard to explain?

The Children's Story keeps asking me all sorts of questions I cannot answer. Perhaps you can—then your child will...."
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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From the Publisher

It was a simple incident in the life of James Clavell -- a talk with his young daughter just home from school -- that inspired this chilling tale of what could happen in twenty-five quietly devastating minutes. He writes, "The Children's Story came into being that day. It was then that I really realized how vulnerable my child's mind was -- any mind, for that matter -- under controlled circumstances. Normally I write and rewrite and re-rewrite, but this story came quickly -- almost by itself. Barely three words were changed. It pleases me greatly because I kept asking the questions....

Questions like, What's the use of 'I pledge allegiance' without understanding? Like Why is it so easy to divert thoughts? Like What is freedom? and Why is so hard to explain?

The Children's Story keeps asking me all sorts of questions I cannot answer. Perhaps you can--then your child will...." --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
With all due respect, Ted Rushton is completely misreading the author's intent. A close reading of ALL of Clavell's work would show that the author loved freedom above all else. He was a happy emigre to our shores, spending the last years of his life in sunny California. A POW during WWII, his Japanese captors (from whom Orwell took the phrase and concept of "thought police") beat him down, but did not break his spirit, or his love of Asia, as his books demonstrate.
NOBLE HOUSE in particular is a masterful display of the conflict between Socialism and Freedom, with Russian/Chinese Communists as the former, and Hong Kong/British capitalists the latter.
As to THE CHILDREN'S STORY, Mr. Rushton's review does to this book what the new teacher does to the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance in Mr. Clavell's story. In the afterword, Mr. Clavell describes how his daughter came home from school and demanded a payment of ten cents after reciting the Pledge for him. He handed the dime over lovingly, but the incident got him thinking that there has to be more to learning the Pledge than the promise of a ten cent piece. He wanted his child to understand what she was pledging her allegiance to, and that is a symbol of freedom! The new teacher convinces all of the children but one that the flag is just a piece of cloth and the Pledge is just a handful of meaningless words. And if you cut the flag up and parse the POA to death then yes, she's right. But the pledge means that you support and intend to uphold the ideals of liberty and freedom that the flag has come to symbolize. Its obvious to me that the new teacher is doing all she can to replace the American values of liberty, freedom, and justice for all with the socialist values of...well, there are no socialist values. Unless unquestioning subservience is a value.
Mr. Rushton may think me a jingoistic rightist dupe for my views, and he's free to do so. You're free to do a lot, in America.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's starting to happen! Aug. 25 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A lot of [people] have referred to this book as being against the backdrop of the Cold War, but the sad thing is that since the end of the Cold War, the warnings of this book have become MORE and not less pertinent, as the hard left have used the ruse that Communism has collapsed to inject their values into all of us, like a bacillus, through the back door.
I see the brainwashing of the children described in this book as being what university students in the so-called humanities go through, in nearly every university in the world.
The media and universities are trying to do to all of us what the teacher did to the children in the book!
And slowly as youth are filtered through the universities they will permeate the rest of society with corrupt neo-Marxist views, including elementary schools.
How many people throughout the world marched in support of Saddam Hussein earlier this year , without a thought about the morality of the positions they where taking?
Yes, the nightmare we read about in 'The Children's Story' is happening across the world.Too many of us have lost the distinction between right and wrong.
Can the voices of freedom fight back?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Examining the basic words of American freedom Aug. 10 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
By Ted Rushton
When a court ruled the two words "under God" were unconstitutional in the US Pledge of Allegiance, it set off a firestorm of righteous conservative indignation through the United States and dismay among many loyal Americans.
This book, written in 1962 by a truly gifted and far-seeing author, should set those latter-day fears to rest.
Like Ann Rand's Anthem, this book is a devastating account of the shallow nature of the conservative reliance on empty rhetoric rather than the true meaning of the values they profess to express. Fiction ? Look at how easily the early Christians used a few words to turn December 25th., the birthday of the eastern God Mithras the bull-slayer -- which has a probably origin in Catal Huyuk some 5,000 years before the birth of Christ -- into the birthday of the Christian Saviour.
Clavell speculates how clever teachers can turn a few words of prayer and faith into acceptance of a new and presumably totally opposite system of values. His story, with chilling realism, will give any intelligent reader pause about the value of rote repetition of even the most noble phrases -- such as the pledge of allegiance or that famed national anthem "Jose, can you see ?" -- compared to importance of learning the meaning of such words.
For anyone who treasures basic American values, this book is a gem. The message is "learn the meaning" of the words anyone chooses to pledge; in this case, the Pledge of Allegiance, but it also applies to such documents as the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. In most nations, loyalty is based on centuries of habit, heritage and tradition; in the US, similar to Christianity which is based on the truth as revealed in The Bible, loyalty is based on written documents such as the Constitution.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Opportunity to Share Oct. 16 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
For years, I have carried the words of The Children's Story with me, and shared them with as many people as possible. With its roots in words we have taken for granted for years, Clavell forces us to look at all we, as Americans, hold precious, and how vulnerable we are without truly understanding the meaning of that which we espouse. A simple reiiteration of the Pledge of Allegiance, taught to first graders across the country, goes deeper than teaching just the words. Set in "small town anywhere", the story of children in a classroom taken over after a military invasion, this powerful piece takes us to the core of our beliefs, and makes us aware, more than ever, of the true meaning of "allegiance". From the cutting up of the American flag in the opening pages, we are consistently challenged and reawakened. The book teaches us to expect the unexpected, to appreciate our heritage, and to take nothing for granted. A simple, but moving piece of work that should be taken out of the closet, dusted off, and kept on the shelf to be read again and again!
Ever since my own children were small, I have taken out The Children's Story and reread it together with them each and every Memorial Day. I have bought more copies than I can count, and given them to friends, students, and book clubs. I am proud to say that my son, a Firefighter, immediately following the tragedy of September 11th, donated 100 copies to local schools in hopes that reading and discussing it will help reignite an interest and pride in the words we speak from memory, seldom give much thought to, but will never again take for granted.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars SCARY
The Children's Story is the scariest book in print today. Whenever I read it, I feel uneasiness, the book really makes my skin crawl. Every page is more and more chilling. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2002 by Ian Kharitonov
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing work of speculative political fiction
"The Children's Story," by James Clavell, is a short book that could be read in one brief sitting. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2002 by Michael J. Mazza
5.0 out of 5 stars The Children's Story (by James Clavell)
I first read this disturbing little book in 1981, in hardback and before it was given a subtitle, and I promptly bought a dozen copies to send to friends. Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2001 by Mamadillo
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book from college that I keep on my bookshelf.
This book is truly scary. No horror book will ever match this. Spend an hour with this book and your view about the Pledge of Allegiance may change forever. Read more
Published on July 9 2001 by Brendon Cheves
5.0 out of 5 stars The price of democracy
A fellow teacher recommended I read this book about 10 years ago, and I did - thankfully. It is provocative and compelling. It hit me like a board between the eyes. Read more
Published on July 5 2001 by Deborah C. Shelton
5.0 out of 5 stars The scariest book you'll ever read
As frightening as authors like Stephen King or as gripping as a political dramitist like Tom Clancy might be, they have never written anything near as good as this gem. Read more
Published on June 18 2001 by Whillice
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for parents
My 6th grade reading teacher read this to me a few years ago. It really made me think about how a child's mind is like a ball of clay, in that it can be molded so easily in a blink... Read more
Published on April 17 2001 by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Tale
James Clavell, author of SHOGUN, was inspired to write THE CHILDREN'S STORY when his five-year-old daughter expected a dime for reciting the "plege illegience. Read more
Published on April 4 2001 by F. Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars Clavell has a point to make, and makes it well....
I approached The Children's Story with a bit of trepidation and cynicism. The friend who reccommended it said it was "powerful" and when a coworker saw it ,she said it... Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2001 by Mary G. Longorio
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