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Be warned of this edition of this classic book of First World War trench warfare. The translator of this edition wisely remained anonymous. The translation mangles the book. I struggled through the first four chapters, but it was just unreadable. Then a friend lent me the Penguin Classics edition, capably translated by Robin Buss, who captures the essence of the soldierly slang of the time. If you think to save money by buying the Wilder Publications edition, you will not. It is a complete waste of money. Buy the Penguin edition.
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on 29 April 2018
The novel comes alive in the last third. Before this, it features dialogues between loose bands of friends who shuffle through each day, tiny glimpses of the universality of struggle. This new translation renders the vernacular more closely to the ideal of how these soldiers would have spoken. Then comes the great chapters that overtly comment on the horror, the machine of war. I have read little that can equal Barbusse's final chapter, as the baselessness of war is laid bare, the commonality of all men is described, alongside the perpetual echoes of why it all happens, why it is all inevitable in the mouths of those who perpetuate it. This is a great novel to stand with those other great commentaries of The Great War. I think it is profoundly important to read accounts from all the nations to glean how awful the war was, viewed by those who were forced to take part.
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on 29 March 2018
An effective polemic which concentrates on the horrible violence and conditions the men had to suffer in the first world war. However, as a novel it lacked believable and likable characters. The people in it are hardly people, just caricatures that come briefly into focus and then are blasted from view. Half way through I wondered whether it was worth keeping, but at the finish I have added it to my library.
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on 23 December 2013
Thoughtful account of a French soldier's first 16 months in the trenches of WW1. Apart from the philosophising--Barbusse went on to emigrate to Soviet Russia-where he died, the book is a very earthy account of everyday life in the trenches seen from a French perspective. It evokes some of the themes of All Quiet on the Western Front and Birdsong, plus many other tracts about the horror that was trench warfare.
It gives a typically French view of life---the need for wine, bread and cheese all the way through to how to keep a pipe alight in torrential rain. I "enjoyed " it as a true account of a simple recruit's life in Belgium 1915. The descriptions of mud, lice, no food, the horrors of constant shelling, freezing winds, lack of supplies and the general inhumanity and futility of the war are outstanding. The English translation leaves you in no real need of a French vocabulary.

Certainly one to recommend if you want a different country's view on the debacle that was WW1--pity it stops in Dec 1915!!
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on 22 May 2014
I have been desperately disappointed by this translation and had to buy a second proper translation (Penguin Modern Classics). This translation reads as if it was carried out by a computer programme and contains some sentences that do not make proper sense in English. Even the text is not justified but hangs left which seems bizarre for a published book.

I am reading the original French text and wanted a good translation to help with the tougher sections containing slang and jargon. This version is not it.
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on 15 May 2014
Google??? translation so bad that few of the sentences make any sense in English
I bought it to help me understand the French original
the gobbledegook was even harder to understand than the French 'patois' used so frequently in the French edition
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on 30 March 2017
This book ought to be on the school curriculum as a testament to the horrors of war. It demonstrates how ordinary men can be convinced by vested interests to sacrifice precious life for things as transient as borders, ideals, religion etc. These things that only the vested interests gain from but never sacrifice for.
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on 12 January 2015
Harrowing stuff. Not always as easy to get into the writer's experience as say with the British memoirs, but very descriptive of the everyday trialsof cold, hunger, lack of shelter and comforts.
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on 4 February 2017
my husband liked it
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on 1 November 2013
To read the French experience of WW1 has been an eye-opener for me. More concerned with the day to day struggles of the soldiers than with those, supposedly, 'in command', I loved it.
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