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Covenant with Death Hardcover – 1961


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; 1st edition (1961)
  • ASIN: B0000CKW9P
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,643,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J.E.TAYLOR on 7 July 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the best WW1 book I have ever read. Unlike 'Birdsong' which in my opinion is not in the same class. If you are looking for a love theme then this is not the book for you, but if if you are looking for a story of how keen young men are lead to their deaths by 'donkeys' and the comradeship they forge with one another before the slaughter then this is a book you should read. It is one of my Desert Island books.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "njt63" on 13 Jun. 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have traveled the world for work during the last 10 years, and during that time I have bought and read 100's of books of many different styles and subjects. As I have left each home I have had to leave many valued possessions behind, but 2 constants exist in that I have always packed my very battered, paperback copy of this book and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
This book demonstrates the very best of ideals amongst friends in very desperate times, you sense that you know the characters and feel the pain and suffering that they feel.
The climax of book contains some of the best and most graphic writing on the battle and its tragic aftermath you could read.
I could not put this book down on any of the many occasions that I have read it, and I very highly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mr C J Hedges on 28 Aug. 2003
Format: Hardcover
The first review for this book could have been written by me. I read this book every year, it travels with me as my primary holiday reading and I never fail to be touched by the story, characters and the incredible events that occur. It is arguably the greatest novel written about the First World War and should rate as essential reading for all who wish to understand and who, perhaps, misunderstand the mood, the reasoning and the motives for so many young men to willingly enlist and go off to war. A truly great book, by a truly great and under rated writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By FoyoftheRovers on 29 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is quite simply the best work of fiction about the First World War and is an unsurpassable novel! I read it when I was 15, in 1963, on the recommendation of a school friend. Now, having reached the age of 64, its effect has not diminished, despite my having read it countless times. I retain two copies (in case I ever lose one of them). Read this, please; it is the most wonderful work of fiction. In a parody of the publishers' cliche: "If you only read one book in your lifetime, this should be it." N.B. If you buy the Book Club edition it is edited - as such things were back in the sixties.
Anthony Foy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. A. Prestidge on 1 July 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is a masterpiece. Although it is largely forgotten today, it is a heartbreaking account of the recruitment, training and destruction of a Pals' Battalion on the first day of The Battle of the Somme. The concept of a Pals' Battalion, officially known as 'The Derby Scheme', was one of the crueler japes played on the unsuspecting population by politicians and the military. As a recruitment booster, it certainly worked; join up with all the other blokes from your street, or factory, or office, and you will all train together, and serve together. What fun! Predictably they failed to add the caveat - "And you may all die together, too." Covenant With Death takes a fictionalised northern city, probably Sheffield, and takes the bloom of its young men through training, initial optimism, and then annihilation on July 1st 1916, on the killing fields west of a nondescript village called Serre. The description of the attempted roll-call of the Battalion after the battle is one of the most heartbreaking passages I have ever read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Child Of The Sixties on 10 July 2013
Format: Paperback
My Dad had a copy of this book, which I read in 1967, I was 14 years old. I knew nothing of the 'Pals' Battalions. I was ignorant of the battle of the Somme. The only thing I really knew about World War 1 was that my Grandpa was wounded in it and would not speak about it. The story is a moving, emotional and ultimately shocking experience. It tells of a group of men who answered Kitchener's call and joined a local 'pals' regiment.
We get to know them through enlistment, training, the journey to France and finally the Somme. Even after all this time I can still recall some of the characters and sections of the book.
Covenant with Death caused me to read Biographies, poetry and fiction from WW1 and I became aware of the art of Otto Dix who was a machine gunner in WW1. Reading this book I learned what a terrible thing a machine gun is!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve the ref on 28 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly agree with all the above reviews, quite simply it is the best book I`ve ever read and by far and away my favourite - it`s been with me since around 1970. I`m on with it again (for he umpteenth time) but this time in conjunction with a factual book on the Battalion on which the story is based - the 12th (Service) Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment, the Sheffield City Battalion (Ralph Gibson & Paul Oldfield). It is quite remarkable how much overlap exists between the two and it is possible to identify some of the characters and incidents John Harris includes in the novel.
A very moving story without being mawkish or overstated giving a very contemporary feel to the drive and motivation behind the Pals and how they were sacrificed. Get hold of a copy if you can, you won`t be disapointed!
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