22 November 2007

Charles Yale Harrison's "Generals Die in Bed"

American publisher Annick Press (www.annickpress.com) recently reissued Charles Yale Harrison's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Yale_Harrison) novel Generals Die in Bed, originally published in 1928. I re-read it recently having first read a previous edition a decade or so ago. It's still a very interesting read. The novel was a bestseller when originally published, although many in Canada reportedly were upset with some of the activities described. Harrison, an American but also a former member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, always maintained he was trying to write about what really happened during the war, but in a fictional setting. His anti-war sentiments, and overwhelming sense of futility of what he experienced, certainly do appear clearly in the narrative. That said, should anyone who's spent any serious time studying the First World War really be surprised by this? I don't think so. I can certainly understand those, like a very public Sir Arthur Currie, who were offended by the novel when it was first published. At the same time, I don't find the novel to be that controversial. Now, whether that's just my personal sense of what to expect from such a story or whether it's a reflection of growing up in a much later generation with two world wars behind it, I don't know. Anyway, it's an interesting novel from someone who the war obviously affected very deeply.

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