Top positive review
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If you read just one book on World War 1, this should be it. Look for an early translation.
on 25 January 2018
Firstly, having struggled to write this review and read it back, I realised that I am unable to do justice to such an excellent book.
When doing research upon the location of where my Great Grandfather was fatally wounded on the Guillemont to Ginchy Road, I found reference to Ernst Junger and this book. If you are going to read it, try to source an early translation or publication. This copy was first published in 1929. As I understand from other reviewers, the later translations were not so good and were sanitised. I bought the the book as I wanted to read something written by someone about the area in which my Great Grandfather died, at the time that he was there.
I could hardly put the book down. I made myself read it over several days as I wanted to digest as much as possible. I had sourced photographs of the area and reading the book helped me to understand more about the absolute hell that it was.
Mr Junger's account of being under constant bombardment and being unable to communicate with comrades unless by shouting close to their ear, describes a situation which is unbelievable, but you know it to be true. I knew that many soldiers were vaporised in explosions, but his descriptions of this and hand to hand fighting make for incredible reading. Even the somewhat quieter times when they were in reserve or on leave, make for interesting reading.
Mr Junger's unbiased account provokes much thought and should be read as part of the school curriculum. We are lucky to have such a book. Mr Junger was lucky to survive the whole War. I'm sure the amount of soldiers on both sides that did that, are few. To have kept and published a diary has made us all the richer for his experiences.
If there are families that have diaries of Soldiers that were there at the time, they should seriously look into having them published, if only on a WW1 website. Their legacy should be that we all know what they went through. When I undertake my next visit to my Great Grandfather's grave, I will look at the area in a different light.
Ernst Junger was, like so many Soldiers of both sides, a very brave man. I have the utmost respect for all of them.