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A Moment of War (The Autobiographical Trilogy) [Kindle Edition]

Laurie Lee
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A work of lyrical intensity. Read it and salute one of Britain's finest writers (Daily Mail)

A great, heart-stopping narrative of one young Englishman's part in the war in Spain . . . crafted by a poet, stamping an indelible image of the boredom, random cruelty and stupidity of war (Literary Review)

This story aches with unforgotten cold and trembles with unforgotten terror (Guardian)

Product Description

‘A Moment of War’ is the magnificent conclusion to Laurie Lee’s autobiographical trilogy begun in ‘Cider with Rosie’ and ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’.

It was December 1937 when the young Laurie Lee crossed the Pyrenees and walked into the bitter winter of the Spanish Civil War. With great vividness and poignancy, Lee portrays the brave defeat of youthful idealism in Auden’s ‘low dishonest decade’.

Writing in the Literary Review, John Sweeney praised the memoir as, ‘A great, heart-stopping narrative of one young Englishman’s part in the war in Spain … crafted by a poet, stamping an indelible image of the boredom, random cruelty and stupidity of war’

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More About the Author

Laurie Lee was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 1914, and was educated at Slad village school and Stroud Central School. At the age of nineteen he walked to London and then travelled on foot through Spain, where he was trapped by the outbreak of the Civil War. He later returned by crossing the Pyrenees, as described in his book A Moment of War. In 1950 he married Catherine Polge and they had one daughter.

Laurie Lee published four collections of poems: The Sun My Monument (1944), The Bloom of Candles (1947), My Many-Coated Man (1955) and Pocket Poems (1960). His other works include The Voyage of Magellan (1948), a verse play for radio; A Rose for Winter (1955), which records his travels in Andalusia; The Firstborn (1964); I Can't Stay Long (1975), a collection of his occasional writing; and Two Women (1983). He also wrote three bestselling volumes of autobiography: Cider with Rosie (1959), which has sold over six million copies worldwide, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991), which are also published by Penguin in a single volume entitled Red Sky at Sunrise (1992).

Laurie Lee died in May 1997. In its obituary the Guardian wrote, 'He had a nightingale inside him, a capacity for sensuous, lyrical precision', and the Independent praised him as 'one of the great writers of this century whose work conjured up a world of earthy warmth and beauty'.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Laurie Lee's spare, unsentimental memoir of his experience as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War should take a place, I think, with Orwell's Homage to Catalonia as one of the English language classics of the time. Moved by idealistic sympathy for the Republican cause, Lee begins with his winter's journey by foot across the Pyrenees only to be taken as facist infiltrator and thrown into an underground pit-prison with a soon to executed deserter. Eventually allowed to join the International Brigade, he continues to tell a story of disillusionment: "I imagined a shoulder-to-shoulder brotherhood, a brave camaraderie joined in one purpose, not the fragmentation of national groups scattered around the courtyard talking wanly only to each other. Indeed they seemed to share a mutual air of unease and watchfulness, of distrust and even dislike." Yet A Moment of War is not sour story. Its prose evokes awareness heightened by danger and deprivation. Of a humble bowl of bean soup Lee writes, "Bean soup hot and chunky, with an interesting admixture of tar, but to me a gluttonous reward after almost two weeks of near famine in the cave. I remembered again the concentration of the senses, of smell and flavor, that hunger brings to appetite, and with each steaming spoonful I was also aware of the grime of the unscrubbed table, the rusting metal of the soup plate, the sharp frozen landscape outside, almost the fatness of each bean." Of a chance reencounter with a Spanish girl who smells of "fresh mushrooms and tampled thyme, woodsmoke and burning orange," he recalls the heady, sensual magic of being young, the "rare and magnetic driving patterns of youth, cutting across the humdrum chaos of the multitudes. Read more ›
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifull and haunting 9 May 2003
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Lee's third and final installment of his autobiographical trilogy.
Unlike Orwell, Borkenau or Hemmingway, Lee was not a middleclass young man with a private income. He was a worker-poet, and this life experience, combined with his remarkable talent with the english language, brings across an incredible clarity and immediacy to his writing that earlier english authors all too often lacked.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, but a book such as this tells much more than pictures ever could.
This book paints a worms eye view of a country 'at war with itself', the suffering and brutalisation of the the experience of the people he meets is all the more vivid because it is banal - theres no melodrama. Its just there, just a fact, like mud.
If you have an interest in the Spanish War then this is a vital addition to your library, but if you just enjoy good literature then this is also a book you shouldn't die without having read.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Conclusion to a Towering Trilogy. 6 Sept. 2009
I have sat in the Woolpack Inn at Slad in the Cotswolds, the village where Laurie Lee was brought up, and the area he so beautifully evokes in his hymn for a lost countryside "Cider with Rosie". The pub licensee informed me that Lee was once a regular and I imagined him telling tales by a crackling winters fire to a spellbound audience. I have a feeling he would have been good entertainment. I also paid my respects at his grave in the nearby churchyard. Perhaps not having the two pear ciders before would have been more respectful, but I am sure Laurie would have understood. I feel some kinship to him as he was a west country man through and through, and came from humble origins. When I recently walked the Cotswold Way I passed again close to Slad and so I decided to read "A Moment in War" the last short book in his trilogy that has taken me 20 years to complete.

After Lee's bittersweet childhood, at the age of nineteen he travelled to Spain with his violin in a sort of rights of passage journey. He travelled mostly on foot and came to know and love the country and its people intimately. At that time the country was on the brink of civil war. He decribes this journey in his book "As I walked out One Midsummers Morning". In "A Moment in War" he returns to Spain to fight in the International Brigades against Franco. This follows his adventures as he crosses the Pyrenees in winter to join the fight. If you are looking for action then you will find nothing apart from one brief skirmish. But if you want a truthful depiction of the realities of war, then look no further. War means hunger and poverty. Lee arrives in Tarazona to find the only food he can purchase are beech nuts. The following passage sums things up neatly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great read 18 Dec. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read the first two books in Laurie Lee's trilogoy, I was not disappointed in this, the last. Written in the same magical style, I was rivetted from start to finish
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MOMENT OF WAR 5 Dec. 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read the other two Laurie Lee books that form this trilogy, I was keen to complete it. In no way was I disappointed. You are left with the cliffhanger at the end of,"As I Walked Out..." and this book cruised straight on. The heat of the previous book is forgotten as you enter the freezing paths of the Pyrenees and the even colder events of the Spanish Civil War. A real treat. I've just ordered, "A Rose For Winter," to continue reading his works on visiting Spain.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A work of imagination
9 weeks on the back-lines. Historically useless, compared to George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. More magical realism than autobiography.
Published 5 days ago by Ferdinand
5.0 out of 5 stars War...what is it good for?
The third in Laurie Lee’s autobiographical trilogy, A Moment of War is an ironic comment on how Lee – and many others like him, became part of a conflict they never really... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The man is just magic to read - note to myself must read more Laurie Lee
Published 1 month ago by P,T.HANKS
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it very much
Typical Lee book. I enjoyed it very much.
Published 2 months ago by F J Loftus
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good read
Published 3 months ago by akelacass
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent work beautifully written
Published 3 months ago by MRS J R GOULDBY
5.0 out of 5 stars Read all three!
This is a classic of it's type and the whole trilogy of these books is brilliant. He has a wonderful prose style and this, I feel, is an important book about a turning point of the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Orwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wine with Eulalia rather than cider with Rosie
Gives a good feeling for the idealism and naïveté of the international volunteers who went to fight Franco. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Roger Holden
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!
Published 3 months ago by Elizabeth Wyatt
5.0 out of 5 stars To say I loved it, which Amazon dictates the five stars must ...
To say I loved it, which Amazon dictates the five stars must mean, seems a deception. I was very glad to read it and I positively devoured his record of time amidst the Civil War. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. Philip Mcginness
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