Introducing Casemate’s Classic War Fiction Series

This month we are pleased to introduce our Classic War Fiction Series. The Casemate Classic War Fiction series brings together attractive new editions of forgotten war classics. Perfectly capturing the era they were written in and depicting the harsh realities of war, the series launches with the conflict that gave birth to gritty realism in fiction, World War I. The collection reveals an unflinching and honest portrayal of life at war for the ordinary man – from a British patrol in the remote desert to volunteer French soldiers in the trenches.


Under Fire

9781612003825

Under Fire, first published in French as Le Feu, was one of the first novels about WWI, appearing in December 1916, before the outcome of the war was clear. Set in early 1916, it follows a squad of French volunteer soldiers through the eyes of an unnamed foot soldier, who participates in and also observes the action. It combines soaring, poetic descriptions with the mundane, messy, human reality of soldiers living in their own excrement. Then slowly names and features are given to the men who emerge from the mud as the individual characters emerge, from the dignified leader Corporal Bertrand, to the ebullient Volpatte and the obsessive Cocon. Intermingled with details of how they navigate daily life in the putrefied atmosphere of the trenches are both harrowing descriptions and a political, pacifist argument about this war and war more generally. Caught up in events they cannot control, the soldiers go through their daily routines: foraging for food, reading letters from wives and mothers, drinking, fighting in battle, and in heavily realistic scenes which the novel is noted for, discovering dead bodies in advanced stages of decomposition; the human detritus of a brutal war. Through it all, they talk about the war, attempting to make sense of the altered world in which they find themselves.

Under Fire drew criticism at the time of its publication for its harsh realism, but won the Prix Goncourt. The original translation by Fitzwater Wray which first appeared in 1917 is published here. It captures the essence of the era; a glossary is also provided to help with unfamiliar vocabulary.

Paperback     ISBN : 9781612003825     $15.95 

Click here to purchase  on our website or from any major book retailer.


The Somme: Also Including the Coward

9781612003801

‘The million British dead have left no books behind. What they felt as they died hour by hour in the mud, or were choked horribly with gas, or relinquished their reluctant lives on stretchers, no witness tells. But here is a book that almost tells it……Mr Gristwood has had the relentless simplicity to recall things as they were; he was as nearly dead as he could be without dying, and he has smelt the stench of his own corruption. This is the story of millions of men – of millions.’ – H. G. Wells, from the preface

In The Somme and its companion The Coward, first published in 1927, the heroics of war and noble self-sacrifice are completely absent; replaced by the gritty realism of life in WWI for the ordinary soldier, and the unflinching portrayal of the horrors of war. Written under the guidance of the master storyteller H. G. Wells, they are classics of the genre.

The Somme revolves around a futile attack in 1916 during the Somme campaign. Everitt, the central protagonist is wounded and moved back through a series of dressing stations to the General Hospital at Rouen. Both in and out of the line he behaves selfishly and unheroically, but in a manner with which it is hard for the reader not to identify. Based on A D Gristwood’s own wartime experiences, critics have said that few other accounts of the war give such an accurate picture of trench life.

The Coward concerns a man who shoots himself in the hand to escape the war, during the March 1918 retreat – an offense punishable by death. He gets away with it, but is haunted by fear of discovery and self-loathing.

Paperback      ISBN : 9781612003801     $14.95

Click here to purchase on our website or from any major book retailer.


Patrol

9781612003788‘Already loose sand had drifted over the stamped-down square which momentarily had distinguished the subaltern’s grave: no there was no sign, no mark, no indication whatsoever. There had been, here, eleven men. Now ten rode away’

In the Mesopotamian desert during World War I, the leader of a British patrol is shot and killed, by an unseen enemy. The officer is the only one who knows their orders and has not told anyone else where they are located. From then on the sergeant has to try to lead the men through a hostile desert landscape which is full of invisible Arab snipers. One by one they are picked off, and the group of diverse characters from different backgrounds has to try to come together in order to survive. The decision making process proves far from easy as tensions and prejudices from their former lives come to the fore. This thrilling tale of suspense goes right to the last page and was a best seller in the 1920s. The novel was filmed twice, by Walter Summers (as Lost Patrol in 1929) and by John Ford (as The Lost Patrol in 1934).

Paperback        ISBN : 9781612003788        $15.95

Click here to purchase  on our website or from any major book retailer.


Bretherton: Khaki or Field-Grey

9781612003764

Towards the end of the war as the Germans are in their final retreat in November 1918, a British raiding party stumbles across a strange and eerie scene in a ruined chateau, under fire. Following the strains of a familiar tune, and understandably perplexed as to who would be playing the piano in the midst of shellfire, they discover a German officer lying dead at the keys, next to a beautiful woman in full evening dress, also deceased. But the officer is the spitting image of G B Bretherton, a British officer missing in action….

So follows a tale of mystery and identity, first published in 1930, which is not only an authentic account of conditions at the Front, but also a remarkable thriller, with a highly unusual plot, which won Bretherton comparisons to John Buchan and the best of the espionage writers.

John Squire, the influential editor of the London Mercury said ‘of the English war-books, undoubtedly the best is Bretherton.’ The Morning Post thought it ‘one of the best of the English war novels. I do not expect anything much better.’ The Sunday Times pinpointed its dual attraction: it was both ‘a mystery as exciting as a good detective story and an extraordinarily vivid account of trench-warfare’.

Paperback      ISBN : 9781612003764    $15.95

Click here to purchase  on our website or from any major book retailer.

 

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