The one thing Australia and the Commonwealth should never forget is its history, in particular the sacrifices our ancestors made during World World 1 and in subsequent times of conflict.
Today, on Remembrance Day, we remember those that have fallen, sacrificing their very lives to provide a better life for us. The below ten books detail the horrors and costs of war, helping us never forget that behind every great victory is great loss.
The Thin Red Line
‘Is it really worth it to die, to be dead, just to prove to everybody that you’re not a coward?’
On Guadalcanal in the south Pacific, the soldiers of C Company are about to enter the war. The men know they face their baptism of fire. But none know if they will be one of ‘the lucky ones’ to make it safely off the island. From Captain Stein, who feels like a father to his troops, and ‘Mad’ Sergeant Welsh, condemning all nations while swigging gin from his canteen, to Private Bell, who just wants to get home to his wife, they will discover the line that divides sanity from madness, and life from death …
Read more or grab your copy of The Thin Red Line here!
The Middle Parts of Fortune
Bourne is a private fighting on the front. Self-reliant and articulate, he is under pressure to accept a commission, but he prefers to be among the ranks, drawn into the universal struggle for survival in a world gone mad. An attempt to understand the inexplicable, Manning’s moving and powerful work is unlike any other First World War novel in its depiction of the life of the ordinary British soldier, which was as much concerned with drill, transportation, rest and relaxation, as the trauma and brutalities of combat. Its use of swearing and its highly disturbing realism give The Middle Parts of Fortune a startling contemporaneity …
Read more or grab your copy of The Middle Parts of Fortune here!
All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
The most famous anti-war novel ever written.
One by one the boys begin to fall. In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches …
Read more or grab your copy of All Quiet On The Western Front here!
Ford Madox Ford
Parade’s End is the great British war novel and Ford Madox Ford’s major achievement as a novelist. Originally published as four linked novels between 1924 and 1928, it follows the story of Christopher Tietjens, as his life is shattered by his wife’s infidelities and overturned by the mud, blood and destruction of the First World War. Tietjens, with his old-fashioned Tory values, is already out of step with the corrupt political culture of Edwardian England: his experiences at the Front and his developing relationship with the suffragette Valentine Wannop force him into a radical reconfiguring of his values as he participates in the …
Read more or grab your copy of Parade’s End here!
The Periodic Table
‘So it happens, therefore, that every element says something to someone’
Inspired by the rhythms of the Periodic Table, Primo Levi assesses his life in terms of the chemical elements he associates with his past. From his birth into an Italian Jewish family through his training as a chemist, to the pain and darkness of the Holocaust and its aftermath, Levi reflects on the difficult course of his life in this heartfelt and deeply moving book.
Written with characteristically understated eloquence, The Periodic Table is one of the key testaments of the last century …
Read more or grab your copy of The Periodic Table here!
Life and Fate
At the centre of this epic novel, overshadowing the lives of its huge cast of Russian and German characters, looms the battle of Stalingrad. Within a world torn apart by ideological tyranny and war, Grossman’s characters must work out their destinies.
Completed in 1960 but confiscated by the KGB, this sweeping panorama of Soviet Society rejected the compromises of a lifetime and earned its author denunciation and disgrace. It remained unpublished until it was smuggled into the West in 1980, where it was hailed as a masterpiece …
Read more or grab your copy of Life and Fate here!
The Yellow Birds
An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, The Yellow Birds is already being hailed as a modern classic.
A soldier’s broken promise … a mother’s loss … an agonizing truth. THE YELLOW BIRDS gives a powerful, emotional insight into the human cost of war – its impact on soldiers, their families, and most of all what it is like to return home, but never be able to leave the memories behind. Kevin Powers served two terms as a machine gunner with the US army in Iraq. On his return, he was asked one question more than any other …
Read more or grab your copy of The Yellow Birds here!
Grey-green mountain jungle. Cold monsoon clouds wreath its mile-high summit, concealing a battery of 105-mm howitzers surrounded by deep bunkers, carefully constructed fields of fire and the 180 marines of Bravo Company.
Just three kilometres from Laos and two from North Vietnam, there is no more isolated outpost of America’s increasingly desperate war in Vietnam. Lieutenant Waino Mellas, 21 years old and just a few days into his 13-month tour, has barely arrived at Matterhorn before Bravo Company is ordered to abandon their mountain and sent deep in-country in pursuit of a North Vietnamese Army unit of unknown …
Read more or grab your copy of Matterhorn here!
Testament of Youth
A film tie-in edition of Vera Brittain’s classic autobiography, published to coincide with the major motion picture adaptation starring Dominic West, Emily Watson, Colin Morgan and Kit Harington.
In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved …
Read more or grab your copy of Testament of Youth here!
For Whom The Bell Tolls
High in the pine forests of the Spanish Sierra, a guerrilla band prepares to blow up a vital bridge. Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer, has been sent to handle the dynamiting. There, in the mountains, he finds the dangers and the intense comradeship of war. And there he discovers Maria, a young woman who has escaped from Franco’s rebels.
For Whom The Bell Tolls is Ernest Hemingway’s finest novel, a passionate evocation of the pride and the tragedy of the Civil War that tore Spain apart …
Read more or grab your copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls here!
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