- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Definitions; New edition edition (4 Nov. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099439905
- ISBN-13: 978-0099439905
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Generals Die In Bed Paperback – 4 Nov 2004
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A shockingly frank portrayal of the experiences of a group of soldiers in the trenches.
Drawing on his own experiences in the First World War, Charles Yale Harrison tells a stark and poignant story of a young man sent to fight on the Western Front. It is an unimaginably harrowing journey, especially for one not yet old enough to vote. In sparse but gripping prose, Harrison conveys a sense of the horror of life in the trenches. Here is where soldiers fight and die, entombed in mud, surrounded by rats and lice, forced to survive on insufficient rations. Harrison captures the only kind of humour possible under the circumstances of life on the Western Front. - dark and sardonic, a mingling of comedy and horror.See all Product description
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Written in the present tense with the sparest of styles that provide an immediacy and urgency to the events, the book pitches the reader into a maelstrom of violence with no hint of glorification.
Stripped of all romance and glamour, the story repeatedly shocks with depictions of unsteady comradeship, looting and the shooting of unarmed men. Particularly unsettling is the narrator’s description of the prolonged agonies suffered by a German he has incompetently bayoneted, followed by a meeting with the brother of the dead man.
This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the period and genre; a work that should be ranked alongside All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms.
Harrison’s novel takes the horror of the First World War from the perspective of the Canadian troops. This book’s magic perhaps lies in its brevity. The excess detail has been left out, adding weight and gravity to the many nightmares described. One memorable scene in particular is when he is storming the German trenches and his bayonet gets stuck inside a German soldier who is taking a long time to die. The heartache, tenderness and horror of the scene in many ways sums up the madness and confusion of the entire conflict.
The cruelty, lies and contradictions of warfare are questioned and exposed in all of their naked, ugly truth in Harrison’s unforgiving portrayal of propaganda and trench warfare. This may not quite have the penetrating reach and potency of the likes of “Storm of Steel” or “All Quiet On The Western Front” but it is still a powerful piece of work. Harrison’s prose is spare, short, raw and devastatingly authentic in every detail. This is well written and sits comfortably up there with the other recommended readings on the Great War.
I can understand why the Canadian establishment were so disapproving when it came out, but I think it is far better than the heavy selling recent novels of the last twenty years. Why read a recent book when you can read the real thing?
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