The Somme also including The Coward (Casemate Classic War Fiction)
4 journalers for this copy...
From back cover:
'The million British dead have left no books behind. What they felt as they died hour by hour in the mud, or were choked horribly with gas, or relinquished their reluctant lives on stretchers, no witness tells. But here is a book that almost tells it... This is the story of millions of men - of millions.' - H. G. Wells, Preface.
First published in 1927, heroics and self-sacrifice are completely absent in Gristwood's novels. Instead, his gritty realism focuses on life in WWI for the ordinary soldier. The Somme relates the story of Everitt, who is wounded and moved back through a series of dressing stations to the General Hospital at Rouen. Both in and out of the line he behaves selfishly and unheroically, but his circumstances and the conditions around him make his actions easy to understand. The Coward concerns a man who shoots himself in the hand to escape the war during the March 1918 retreat - an offense punishable by death. Based on A. D. Gristwood's own wartime experiences, and written under the guidance of master storyteller H. G. Wells, critics have said that few other accounts of the war give such an accurate picture of trench life.
The story of an infantryman engaged in trench warfare on the front lines. Unglamorous, terrifying, and filled with futility as he and his fellow soldiers make their way to the front, push the line forward and then the nearly as terrifying journey as one of the injured back. A difficult read but one all military enthusiasts and perspective soldiers should read. But as the 2 stories mention, knowing the reality would lower the patriotism of many and keep enrollment low.
This story is said to be based on the author’s life, who later committed suicide (related to the war? Who can know but you can’t help but feel that it is so.). This story also takes place near the front line. But the main character here has the time to plot and execute a plan of cowardice. (Who can truly say they would or would not do the same? There is no way to tell until faced with a similar situation.) We see throughout the story the character’s struggle with his actions as he feels relief, fear, and shame. For even a coward’s choice has unforeseen consequences.
The book starts with a preface from H.G. Wells who believed in the stories’ need to be told so much that he helped the author with them and wrote this great intro.
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greenbadger’s One Book a Month thread!
Good luck to all!
1- FinalsEnd <---WINNER
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Congratulations to FinalsEnd!
Hope you enjoy!
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Update: This one is quite different than other war novels I have read. It is not character driven or plot driven and so it is not a page turner. But it is really good at describing the plight of the soldiers at the frontline and does it without sentimentalizing it. I find it a worthwhile read.
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