Shortlisted for Book of the Month
AMAZON UK £7.64
AMAZON US $ 11.95
AMAZON CA $18.56
WWI The Western Front
We all know the scenario: war breaks out in Europe and hundreds of thousands of young men from all walks of life enlist with hope, enthusiasm and the naïve belief that 'all will be over by Christmas'. Except in this book, the main protagonists are German students.
Franz Becker is our narrator and together with his student friends, principally Karl von Leussow, they enlist with all due patriotism. After minimal training, they are sent to Ypres and the horrors, the nightmares, the comradeship and their hatred of the enemy (the Tommies) begins.
One theme runs through the book: Karl decides to accept the role of sniper because he is a superb shot, but Franz disapproves and the conflict sometimes threatens their deep friendship. The violence throughout is detailed but never overly graphic and the language is, well, shall we say, vivid. But it is the language of soldiers and adds to the overall authenticity.
Two things stand out for me in this book: one is the wonderful characterisation of even minor players, all without stereotyping, and the way the author keeps up the pace to hold the readers' interest from start to finish.
The ending won't give you any answers but I understand that there will be another book carrying on from this one – although this will be a hard act to follow.
Quite simply, probably the best novel I have read on this subject and one of the best I have read in any field of Historical Fiction.
© Richard Tearle
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