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4.5 out of 5 stars
Fear
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2013
Enjoyable read. Definitely of it's time when alot of anti war memoirs came out, mainly due to the depression where the sacrifice really didn't feel worth it, then in the sixties more myth was perpetuated, which has stuck until recent times.

Anyway back to the book, you don't get many WW1 books from the French perspective which is a crying shame as they brought the brunt of the allied casualties. They where also a fearsome opponent that was sadly sullied in WW2 and which the French have not shaken off, I always tell people if the topic arises that French can't fight or surrender, how in WW1 they where fearsome and lets not forget about Napoleons Army going even further back.

So I say go and buy it. Under Fire is a better book but this still deserves a place on your shelf.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2013
On Learning that, at some parts of the front line, both armies were on good terms with each other, getting on with their daily tasks when not ordered from above to kill. Incoming projectiles into opposite trenches consisted of loaves of bread and tobacco. With waves and cordial greetings of workers untied by common suffering, Germans would shout 'officer!' to alert the enemy whenever their own hierarchy threatened. Eventually word got out and court martial's were threatened.

'The fear seemed to be that the troops would come together to end the war,overruling the generals. Apparently this outcome would have been something terrible.'

Just one of many wonderful lines from this now quite old book. Written as a narrative by a fictional character it is his story of the first world war. It seems to me to be the authors own story of what he experienced in the trenches. Heroes he says will not see the end of the war, the only way to survive it seems is to avoid at all costs any direct contact with the enemy. A self confessed inept soldier one of millions drafted into the carnage, his courage nonetheless shines through. You have to know fear to be brave.
It is also a well aimed swipe at the tinpot generals and officers elevated to rank via ego and boot licking in a desperate attempt to get away from the violence of the 'front'. An essay on those of less able intellect who all to often end up in a position to abuse the power given to them over a few or many.
A must read book coming up to the 100th anniversary of the out- break 'of the war to end all wars.'
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The author's Clochemerle is possibly my favourite book of all time (close run thing with Treasure Island) and I'd never heard of this book. Being a bit of a Chevallier completist I bought this though, and was first of all struck by how sparse and serious this book is, certainly compared to clochemerle. I suppose this is inevitable given the subject matter but it is quite a departure none the less. Yes there are elements of humour present and much of the "seriousness" is expressed through irony and sarcasm (think Blackadder without the belly laughs) but on the whole this is a doughty work which I believe has to be at least partly if not wholly autobiographical. It is very readable however and has been beautifully translated so that the nuances of the French language have been preserved but English idioms have been used where appropriate. I would put this on a par with "Under Fire" by Henri Barbusse or "Storm of Steel" by Ernst Junger as an example of how continental soldiers fared during the First World War and heartily recommend this for anyone wishing a thought provoking and ultimately entertaining read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2012
A compelling, evocative novel that I kept mistaking for a factual account. This book certainly has the ring of truth about it, and perhaps gives a better idea of the life of a WW1 soldier than the undeniably excellent All Quiet on the Western Front. Details about kit, dodging trenches, staying in hospital as long as possible and just avoiding being killed abound and make the book wonderfully rich. There are pages of rage, horror, humour and pathos: everything you could want from a novel about war. The passage comparing the colonel's staff shelter to the palace of Versailles is superb.
How anyone went through this conflict as long as Chevallier did and a) survived and b) stayed sane is a miracle.
French books (in English) about the war are few in number, but worth the search when you find them; this is no exception and I recommend it heartily.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2012
This was an exeptionally good book. The story really brings home what it must have been like to fight in the great war. We now live in a world so far removed from such massive sacrifice but this book reminds us of what many people went through to give us the world we live in today.

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I read it on the beach whilst on holiday. Nice easy read, not too heavy going.
It made a change to read a war story from a foreign soldier's perspective.
Buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2013
Written by the author of the story Clochmerle it deals with the view point of French soldiers in WW1, a view not often portrayed in literature.
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on 22 October 2014
At last, one WW1 French book translated in English. Dark obviously but very well written (translated). A book to consider for someone who is interested in getting a different perspective on the conflict.
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on 10 June 2015
excellently written and translated, his grasp of evocative language intensifies the horrors and absurdity of this war.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2011
The critic that suggested this was the French equivilent of All Quiet on the Western Front got it spot on, a truly wonderfull book It is on the Top Shelf of my bookcase!
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