When I decided to read this book, I did so with trepidation. Previously, I had read All Quiet on The Western Front and Farewell to Arms and, even though I wanted to learn more about The First World War, I was worried about the diary format of Goodbye to All That.
I was, of course, more than pleasantly surprised. Robert Graves is lucid and engaging through-out. Even in the beginning, when he recalls his education at Harrow, I found it fascinating and was hooked. Robert Graves has a wonderful way of writing, whereby it's as if he's only having a casual conversation. In fact, all the way through, Graves employs this friendly method of communication, even when he's discussing his time in the trenches. Naturally, there are more than a few harrowing occasions when the author conveys his dispair, especially towards the end, where Graves becomes increasingly disillusioned with the war, but, even so, the engaging dialogue abides.
The book is highly interesting for several reasons. Firstly, and most prominently, there is much insight into the then-life of an officer, such as the antiquated hierarchy system, and trench war-fare, the old gas masks, the fun the officers had behind the lines, and the military tribunal system. And there is much more on that besides. There is also much about Robert Graves' family and his upbringing.
I enjoyed the book particularly for it descriptions of Siegfried Sassoon and his and Graves' friendship. Having such an intimate description of so emminent a poet is invaluable, and adds real depth to any of Sassoon's work you might read afterward.
Goodbye to All That is a great book. It is well crafted, and intriguing, and, more than anything, it is an important work of military literature.