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The First Casualty Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Mar 2006


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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books; Unabridged edition (1 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753125021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753125021
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 19.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (157 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,645,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description

Review

" A work of formidable imaginative scope the writing is so good, the language so surprisingly subtle and the characters so beautifully delineated." -- "Daily Telegraph "" Riveting action scenes bristle with a queasy energy unputdownable and disgustingly realistic." -- "Sunday Telegraph" "From the Paperback edition." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Ben Elton's first historical thriller --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Steve Horsfall - Author / Writer on 20 Oct 2006
Format: Paperback
I must confess that I have not read a Ben Elton novel for sometime (Blast From the Past being the last), which is odd as it was Ben that inspired me to have a go at writing. Having read an article on The First Casualty I gave it a go... and loved it. Yes, like many I picked up on the obvious Blackadder 4 links, but as a period project obviously close to the author's heart this works on all levels, i.e. great characters, intrigue, history and comical observation. Against the backdrop of murder investigation there is a touching and poignant account of life in the trenches which really hits home - the cramped train journey, the march to the front and the appalling sanitation. It is observed from all angles - gung-ho hero, pacifist, revolutionary to the scared and brow beaten ordinary Tommy. Ben Elton brings it altogether to make one great novel.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Simon (Actor) on 16 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
I really think that Ben Elton has matured as a writer from the comedy sketch 'Stark' to this his tenth novel and finest work. Yes you do still get the cheeky juvenile Elton skits but this story captures and intrigues, particularly as you spare a thought for life in the trenches (if you ever want to read the best depiction of how it feels to be on a front line then Stephen Crane's 'Red Badge Of Courage' remains the classic). The blueprint for 'The First Casualty' is straight out of Blackadder 4 - the concert party, nympho nurse and digs at the class system (and Haig) - familiar. And like that piece of TV work, this is a classic
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By P. Dodd on 16 July 2007
Format: Paperback
I thought this was absolutely excellent. I had reservations at first as, apart from Blackadder, I have never warmed to Ben Elton or observed him to be a particularly sensitive writer. How wrong can you be, this novel aches with love, longing, hope and despair. Yes, it's formulaic; yes, the villain is cliched, but it's a wonderful piece of writing.

I agree with other comments in that it is a 'small' book and not destined to be a classic, it focuses on characters and plot first and foremost, but to dismiss it out of hand is, in my view, wholly wrong. This novel was an unexpected surprise and I doubt whether Mr Elton will write anything to match this again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. D. A. Davis on 23 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To its credit this is a very readable novel which keeps your attention to the very last page. The plot is pacey, the characters uncomplicated and the chapters short. For wiling away time on the beach or the train, therefore, it is ideal.

If however you're looking for a book that lends fresh insight and understanding into the First World War, albeit in a fictional context, you will be disappointed.

Putting aside the inevitable parallels with Black Adder Goes Forth (which isn't always easy - at one point the senior staff officer tries to calm a situation with "Now then, now then, now then!") you are nevertheless left wondering whether The First Casualty was ever intended as a serious piece of writing. If Dan Brown set out to write a novel about WWI this would be it. The basic historic framework is there but the storyline is flimsy and implausible. That Inspector Kingsley chases and then begins to interrogate a witness as he advances across no-mans' land, with bullets flying and shells bursting all around, is ludicrous. It also trivialises the experience of the thousands of men who really did go `over the top'. In fairness though, perhaps there was no other way to lever the requisite `riveting action scenes' (Sunday Telegraph) into a book whose key protagonist is, first and foremost, anti-war.

As others have commented there are a number of inaccuracies in the book, not least Shannon's journey to Flanders at the beginning of Chapter 51. First we learn he takes a `diversion' to Paris then that he commandeers a staff car to take him `up to the line'. Up to the line? Ypres is over 100 miles from Paris - in Belgium. The `diversion' added 200 miles to a 100 mile journey.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Peter Holdsworth on 17 Nov 2005
Format: Hardcover
This new book of Ben Elton's was gripping from the first page. It is an unusual combination of a detective story set in the first world war. Using this canvas it is able to explore many of the major issues of war, morality, conscience and human dignity, as well as highlighting the terrible and wasteful tragedy that the first world war was. Of what importance is the murder of one man when governments are killing millions in the war? What is particularly well defined by Ben Elton is all the power and machinery of the state that is used to compel people to do things, that given the chance to think properly they probably would not do.
Most of this is done deftly by the author, although at times the language, not surprisingly reads as though it is a screenplay, or perhaps one's mind translates it into language that one might have heard in well known TV/screen productions. This doesn't detract from the book, which is too much of a 'page-turner' and too full of thought provoking ideas to distract the reader. The hero sometimes sounds quite stiff, but this is probably in keeping with his character and with social behaviour of the times.
As somebody who has read all of Ben Elton's books, I thought that this was his best, although don't expect the usual humour. It is quite different from the rest of his work, although still retaining the strong moral messages.
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