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Sherston's Progress: The Memoirs of George Sherston (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 28 May 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (28 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143107178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143107170
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 126,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Siegfried Sassoon (1886 1967) was a poet and novelist whose novels include the James Tait Black Award winning "Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man." He is recognized as one of the great poets of World War I and one of the war s most influential opponents.

Paul Fussell (1925 2012) was a writer, editor, and historian whose experiences in World War II led to his writing the award-winning classic "The Great War and Modern Memory." He was also the editor of the collection "Sassoon s Long Journey.""

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Siegfried Sasson explores his anti-war attidude which developed during his war service, and the public perception of the conflict seen from a safe distance from the carnage of the battlefield.

This book and the preceding two volumes, should be included in any serious study of european history of the 20th century.
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This Sassoon volume along with Robert Graves are a link with the past, yet written as if they reminiscing in current times. Superb English and grammar and despite the obvious hardships, mental strain, and fears of the time their story fascinates and teaches.
Sassoon sadly cannot be found in contemporary archives, either film or sound whereas Graves can be seen and heard in the BBC archives (Muggeridge interview). Few can have had his experiences during the Great War and his bravery up until his mental collapse is heroic.
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A bit hard going in parts. Not my favourite 1st World War book, but it is very well written. Some beautiful descriptions even in the midst of describing the war.
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requested xmas present
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99e3c888) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
By Gary Lane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The second book of Sassoon's semi-autobiographical trilogy about the Great War definitely needs to be read with the other two volumes. It starts in the middle of the story arc with the protagonist, George Sherston, returning to the front in 1915 and ends abruptly when he is surreptitiously bungled off by officer friends to a mental hospital in Scotland for his pubic anti-war sentiments. After reading "Memoirs" it is obvious to me how Sassoon survived trench slaughter: he spent a considerable time behind the lines in recovery from illness and a wound, in training, or on leave in England. If the fictional tale is an accurate guide, these absences from the front occurred when his unit was in combat. Sherston's officer mates call him "Kanga", short for kangaroo, as he is continually hopping about. This comment is not to denigrate Sassoon's actual war record since he was decorated for his valor with the Military Cross (MC). Nor is it to denigrate his considerable facility with the English language. His descriptions of the French countryside, swaths of which are being ripped to shreds, are memorable and occasionally poetic: "Thus with almost spectral appearance, the lurching brown figures flitted past with slung rifles and heads bent forward under basin helmets. Moonlight and dawn began to mingle, and I could see the barley swaying indolently against the sky....an exhausted Division returning from the Somme Offensive."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d4a7a4) out of 5 stars a genuine classic 14 Aug. 2013
By david o vaagen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is easily the most quoted book about an individual soldier in WW1. I have read many books about the Great War and several personal memoirs but this goes past war literature into great literature.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d4a768) out of 5 stars Classic Novel 10 April 2014
By Joy Merritt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I chose to read this book because of my interest in WWI from a cultural, personal, historical and political viewpoint. Mr. Sassoon provided all these elements in this classic novel. This book is a piece of literature, so, if you are interested in "easy" reads, with lots of dialogue and not much description, this one may not be the one for you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d4aa5c) out of 5 stars Memoirs of an Eternal Englishman 2 Oct. 2014
By M. G Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
SHERSTON'S PROGRESS is one of those books that makes me wish the rating process on Amazon had a little more flexibility: it's somewhat better than the three-star rating I gave it but not quite good enough to merit four. The final act of the "Sherston Trilogy" which began with MEMOIRS OF A FOX-HUNTING MAN and continued with MEMOIRS OF AN INFANTRY OFFICER, it is a book of an entirely different mettle -- as terse as the other books were loquacious, and as humorous and rich in self-depreciation as they were in callowness and self-involvement.

The Sherston Trilogy are semi-autobiographical novels by Siegfried Sassoon, the English poet and war hero who famously threw his Military Cross into the river Mersey and wrote an eloquent denunciation of British war policy while WW1 was still raging. The first book dealt with "George Sherston's" formative years in late Victorian/early Edwardian England: a sedately beautiful portrait of a bygone era of horse races, trophy cups, claret, flannel bags, pipe smoke, riding boots, boarding schools and snobbery, snobbery, snobbery, which was abruptly and brutally ended by the First World War. The second explored the painful growing-up Sherston experienced as an infantry officer at the front, which saw his boundless thirst for glory evaporate into a sullen resentment at those who he felt were prolonging the war for purely imperialist ends; a resentment which led him to being locked up in a mental institution to spare the government embarrassment. SHERSTON'S PROGRESS picks up where this book left off, with Sherston leaving the institution having resolved to see the war through, despite maintaining it had outlived its original aims. It is a novel which reflects the deep and profound changes that occur when one lives not only through a brutal and stupidly-fought war, but through the end of a great era.

As I mentioned, PROGRESS is much shorter than its predecessors, taking place over a single year which begins with his admission to Slateford War Hospital for "war neurosis" in 1917. There Sherston meets the man who will guide and shape the rest of his life: W.H. Rivers, the famous neurologist/psychologist/anthropologist whose job was to get Sherston to abandon his antiwar stance and return to the front. Once Sherston agrees, however, he finds himself not back in France but in mutinous Ireland, engaged in sophomoric shenanigans with other former patients of Rivers' which harken back to the more innocent first novel. The shadow of the war is long, however, and following a colorful and beautifully-written sojourn to Palestine, Sherston ends up in heavy combat once more in his old Gaullic stomping-grounds, is wounded once more under the most ironic circumstances imaginable, and returns to England, a man who has perhaps finally come to terms with everything in his life, including, it seems, the fact that the England he fought to preserve is now as dead as many of his former comrades in arms.

I definitely enjoyed SHERSTON'S PROGRESS -- especially the Palestinian passages, which feature some of his finest descriptive prose -- but I did think the novel, like the others, suffered from Sassoon's overly powerful sense of self-control. He writes everything, from battle to travelogue, in the same sedate, measured style, with the result that the entire novel never leaves its initial gear. Though it is as occasionally evocative as FOX-HUNTING MAN, which was an amazing if slow-paced reconstruction of Edwardian England at the height of its lovely, decadent silliness, it is also a description of a world which is palpably less attractive: a world of mental hospitals, backwater garrisons full of recuperating men, crowded troop ships, snobbish staff officers and muddy trenches. War is of course an interesting subject in and of itself, but oddly enough, it is perhaps not the best subject for Sassoon, because of his oddly cool-blooded perspective of the world. We read about his anger at the waste, stupidity and insanity of his surroundings, yet there is no sense of passion in these paragraphs. Sherston's anger is intellectual, not emotional, and I began to wonder in this third volume if perhaps he hadn't gone to war to experience that emotion for himself after an incredibly shallow youth centered around nothing but horse races and fox hunts. The English, particularly in Sassoon's day, were notorious for their stiff upper lips and calm demeanor in the face of adversity, but as George Orwell once pointed out, a mask can twist the face that wears it, and it may be that the mask of haughty indolence worn by the young man could not be removed. A reviewer of this novel claimed that it was nothing more than an Englishman trying to rise above his own Englishness -- and failing -- and that seems rather accurate.

It's interesting to note that just a year after the war began, Sassoon -- not Sherston but the actual Sassoon -- famously wrote, "I want a genuine taste of the horrors, and then – peace. I don’t want to go back to the old inane life which always seemed like a prison. I want freedom, not comfort. I have seen beauty in life, in men and things ... The last fifteen months have unsealed my eyes. I have lived well and truly since the war began; now I ask that the price be required of me." In MEMOIRS OF AN INFANTRY OFFICER he paid that price and then some, but I'm not sure that he sentiment about not wanting to go back was true. I think both Siegfried Sassoon and his alter-ago George Sherston were fighting for just that -- for "Atlas buses, of the hansom cab, of sulphurous fogs, of the lazy country-house life, of the long, lovely decade of the Edwardian age" Indeed, a better epitaph for his experiences might be summed up in his own comment from MEMOIRS OF A FOX-HUNTING MAN: "I wanted the past to survive and begin again."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d4af48) out of 5 stars Personal story of monumental change of heart 4 July 2014
By Donald T. McDougall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good personal story of one junior officer's change over time from an officer believing what the Government told him, to one completely against the War and who comes out with a public statement of his reasons. Seems quite realistic as to fears of punishment and ultimate outcome. I always wondered why Siegfried Sassoon was name I had heard of.
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