Alfred Ollivant's Bob, Son of Battle cover
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Publication date:
August 19, 2014
The New York Review Children’s Collection
Available as E-Book, International Literature

Alfred Ollivant’s Bob, Son of Battle is a classic tale from the borderlands between Scotland and England that has delighted generations of boys and girls. This rousing and moving tale of dogs and fathers and sons focuses on the rivalry between two sheepdogs and their masters and a boy who is caught in the middle. We see the legendary local competitions to determine the next champion sheepdog; we investigate the mystery of the dog who has gone rogue and is killing local sheep by night; we experience the life of the villages and enter a vividly evoked, sparsely populated landscape of moors, lakes, and streams. Above all, however, this is a moving human story about a difficult, embittered man, his troubled relationship with his son, and the love of his dog.

As a girl, Lydia Davis, one of America’s finest contemporary writers and translators, loved Bob, Son of Battle. In this new version, she has rendered the now obscure dialects in which the characters speak in clear modern English, allowing new generations of children to appreciate a masterpiece of children’s literature once more.


Probably the greatest dog story ever written, and one you will love as long as you live.

The greatest dog story I ever read: it is like Hamlet with Hamlet left out, all the more noticeable because the Great Dane is included.
—William Lyon Phelps