By Siegfried Sassoon
First Published in 1930, this first-hand account of the face of battle is as beautifully written as it is historically important.
An account of his experiences in the trenches during WW1, between the spring of 1916 and the summer of 1917, creates a picture of a physically brave but self-effacing and highly insecure individual. The narrative moves from the trenches to the Fourth Army School, to Morlancourt and a raid, then to and through the Somme.
The narrator, George Sherston, is wounded when a piece of shrapnel shell passes through his lung after he incautiously sticks his head over the parapet at the Battle of Arras in 1917. He is sent home to convalesce and, while there, arranges to have lunch with the Editor of an anti-war newspaper, the Unconservative Weekly. He determines to speak out against the war, though this contravenes military regulations and could result in his execution.
The book finishes as George Sherston prepares to attend 'Slateford War Hospital' (Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh) after a medical board had decided he was suffering from shell shock. The book portrays Sherston's emotional and intellectual coming of age, as he learns "that he is but one insignificant person caught up in events beyond anyone's comprehension".
I studied this book for my English Literature O level in 1968. I re-ordered it as I remember it as a book thats full of sensitivity about the experience of one man, the author relating to his personal experience of fighting in the great 1914-18 war and especially the injuries he got while at the front and his convalescence period, before going back yet again.
Though I haven't re read it again yet, I fully intend to soon and would like to give a better review of this remarkable book.