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Articles of War

3.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
George Tilson is an eighteen-year-old farm boy from Iowa. Enlisted in the Army during World War II and arriving in Normandy just after D-day, he is nicknamed Heck for his reluctance to swear. From summers of farm labor Heck is already strong. He knows how to accept orders and how to work uncomplainingly. But in combat Heck witnesses a kind of brutality unlike anything he c ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 14th 2006 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 501)
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Nick Arvin’s debut novel, Articles of War, is the powerful story of an 18-year-old from Iowa who is drafted during World War II and is sent to Europe. He is an unremarkable young man who is given the nickname “Heck” because he refuses to curse. He is thrust into battle in the Huertgen Forest and is caught up in the events surrounding the Battle of the Bulge. Because he is terrified, Heck believes himself to be a coward. But does his terror make him a coward or is it the response of a rational hu ...more
Book Concierge
George Tilson leaves his Iowa home for Normandy as an eighteen-year-old recruit in World War II. Shy and unassuming, he keeps to himself and earns the nickname “Heck” because he doesn’t swear. He is muscled from summers of farm labor, and knows how to work long and hard without complaint. But combat is far more brutal than he imagined and fear consumes him.

This novella packs a big punch. The writing is at once reserved and intimately emotional. The reader witnesses the horrors of war along with
The term "MFA fiction", or fiction written by graduates of masters degrees in writing, often draws flack from readers as "dull" and "overwritten", not always rightly so, but I think in this case Articles of War deserves the label it plasters over itself--you can't even get to the first page of this story without the having the author's credentials as a graduate of that sacred Iowa Writer's Workshop flashed repeatedly in your face. Not that you probably wouldn't have figured it out anyway within ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Armand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent and taught novel that follows “Heck”, an 18 year old Iowan farm boy with a reluctance to curse, as he serves in post-D-Day Normandy. Arvin paints a vivid picture of war, and made me think more than ever about the peculiarity of the battlefield, especially the moment-to-moment struggle of warring in an environment made for living. This isn’t naval ships blasting at one another in the ocean, or army brigades firing across open fields, but sheer battle where people live, in farms, on t ...more
Ted Mccombs
Oct 19, 2014 Ted Mccombs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucid and quietly powerful, Nick Arvin's short novel follows a very real, human, and naive soldier "Heck" through the terror of a war that can drop him dead 50 different ways at the drop of a pin -- or not, with no reason or need to reason. The novel ostensibly explores cowardice through Heck, although the simplicity of that idea, cowardice, bottoms out the more we get into it. Arvin makes a brilliant choice (*I* thought it was brilliant, whatever Ms. Maslin may think) to set off this rather wei ...more
David. Luck
Mar 14, 2010 David. Luck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Articles of War is a very good read, especially if you are interested in WWII stories. This book proves that we are not all heroes, especially when we are into self-examination, yet, maybe we are in spite of ourselves. The strength and depth of one man's experience in battle is very griping and will hold your attention as a reader. My only negative comment is the ending. It fell short for me.
Christian P
Aug 14, 2014 Christian P is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sejota-s-shelf
This book contains a lot of scenarios and mysteries that the main character Heck has to discover. Heck is only eighteen years old and he was drafted to the army. Already balding he was more mature then all the other soldiers. Also he was tall and strong when he walked he was looking down at everybody else. What Heck didn't know was he was in for a ride. His first year he was going to war. Now the story behind the name Heck is because he never cussed in his life. This has been CJs first update. H ...more
Ron Charles
The war in Iraq has already inspired a catalog of books, but so far the best are nonfiction. (Seymour Hersh's detractors may disagree.) Fictional treatments of the battles in Baghdad and Fallujah will eventually inform attitudes about the Iraq war even more powerfully than today's news reports and histories, but those tales may not appear soon. In the meantime, we're already seeing a season of stirring novels about life as a soldier.

The protagonist of Nick Arvin's "Articles of War" is an 18-year
Charlie Quimby
I'd seen Nick Arvin's ARTICLES OF WAR on a list of distinguished war novels, so when I came across it in a used book store, I snapped it up.

It wasn't long before I wondered how it had earned the praise.

Another Goodreads reviewer labeled it as MFA fiction, and about 50 pages in, I had to agree. It's heavy on description, long on emotional detachment and short of characters for whom it is possible to care (I wanted to write here "give a rat's ass about.")

Heck, the Iowa farm boy whose perspective
May 13, 2009 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Articles of War may not reach the heights of top-notch historical fiction but it certainly has its redeeming qualities.[return][return]Nick Arvin, a mechanical engineer who is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is a concise, to the point writer. The novel is about "Heck," an 18-year-old Iowa farm boy who is drafted and ends up in the infantry in Europe in late 1944. Arvin is excellent at describing the horrors, fear, confusion, self-doubt and depravations of war and battle. In fact, ...more
Timothy Bazzett
Mar 02, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing
Articles of War reminds me of a rare gem that has been finely and professionally cut and polished. It is a precise and narrow vision of one man's experience in the combat hell that was World War II. Although the protagonist's nickname is Heck, because he refused to use profanity of any kind (a promise to his dead mother), he quickly learned of Hell in the Hurtgen forest and the infamous Battle of the Bulge, enduring the bone-chilling winter cold, the short supply of congealed canned rations, and ...more
Stephanie Pieck
Jul 31, 2016 Stephanie Pieck rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I find this kind of like a required-writing project: I can read it and the story is there, but the language feels like everything is being viewed through layers of cotton. I'm not too far in, but I'm also not sorry the book has less then 200 pages!
OK, now I'm done. I read this in audio, and it was like my old high school textbooks: deadly if engaged in while lying down because it induced sleep! The descriptions were overly literary and cerebral. The characters weren't very vividly drawn, and whi
Bookmarks Magazine

Arvin, inspired by his grandfathers' service during World War II (one with American forces, the other with the German Army), captures the horrors of battle in his first novel. Leaving out the epic sweep of standard historical fiction, the author builds his narrative from one young soldier's experience. Arvin is especially acute in his examination of the psychology of bravery when faced with devastation. His minimalist prose, which captures the panic, horror, carnage, and chaos of war, packs more

Aug 27, 2010 Ursula rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, world-war-ii
The book follows Heck (it's his nickname because he doesn't swear), a boy from Iowa sent to fight in World War II. He's a quiet type, so unsurprisingly, the book is also spare. Heck is a hard worker, and doesn't have any problems taking orders, but his first experience in combat leaves him with the knowledge that he's not cut out for casual heroism - or really any sort of heroism.

It is an interesting counterpoint to the usual World War II story of young men who consistently did the right thing a
Oct 08, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love World War II stories and have read my fair share - and pretty much have Band of Brothers memorized - so I don't say this lightly, "Articles of War" was a unique take on World War II. It focuses mainly on Heck, a replacement soldier arriving in France closer to the end of the war, and his internal struggle with feelings of cowardice. The book is not action packed, in the typical manner of a war novel, but there are many scenes of violence and war as witnessed by Heck and the author made ea ...more
Lisa Houlihan
Nick Arvin's prose belies his involvement in the University of Iowa's writer's workshop, but the plot is less clich than the self-aware writing style. For me, that is; I don't read much war fiction. If the composition was careful, what he composed was remarkable. The protagonist's panic, horror, and ignorance in battle evoked a reaction similar to that of The Road. Not as universally horrifying, because (to someone who has never seen combat), World War II is a finite, self-contained, known quant ...more
This short novel is selected as the One Denver, One Book title, and was given to me earlier this year from my mom. This book tells the story of a single man during World War II. We don’t get much more insight into other soldiers, the war, or any grande scheme. But after reading it, you may have more insight as to what one soldier may have gone through, and not knowing the big picture helps that. And learning one soldier’s story may give you more insight into many. I’m not sure that this would be ...more
Novel about a young soldier in WWII. Very good.
Mar 20, 2012 David rated it really liked it
I'm not usually much for war novels, but I don't think of this one so much as a war novel. Sure, the war is an integral part of the book, but this is really more a novel about the humanness of the main character, Heck. The focal point is his humanity as he experiences the confusion and insanity of the war, and how he is scarred by it. Really, it is very well done. The writing is tight and clean and the description is visceral and moving. I may not usually go for war novels, but however you want ...more
Dec 10, 2007 Jane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers familiar with books about war who will be able to compare this character to others.
This is a great book to teach respect for veterans. This was the One Denver One Book book and I wouldn't have been pulled in except for my bookclub choosing it. I gave it three stars because it helped me to understand war, and the deep respect that veterans deserve. I would have given more stars if I had known why the author wrote it. It would be hard for me to give more stars this book because even though it communicates respect for war as it is, and the respect due to veterans, I still wonder ...more
Bookclub at Katie's.
Craig Werner
The Red Badge of Courage updated to World War II (footnoting the analogy to my Dad who sent the book my way). A fairly straight-forward story of an Iowa farmboy's struggle to find his courage under difficult, but not entirely atypical circumstances. Arvin (a Colorado State grad) writes well, but the book never really took off for me. I won't elaborate much because there's real spoiler possibility here, but I will say that I'll keep an eye out for his other work. Mainly, though, it's sending me b ...more
The Bookloft
Bookseller: Eric

A realistic, spare first novel that captures well the madness and chaos of war. After all of the "Greatest Generation" lit of late, it's kind of refreshing to discover a novel about a coward. A coward for all the right reasons... he's young; he's scared of dying; he's traumatized; he runs; makes perfect sense to me.
But like Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage, the youth in this story runs towards an understanding of himself and his place amidst the madness.
Oct 03, 2007 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the "One Book, One Denver" selection. It was gory! This coming of age story of Heck from Iowa beginning his adulthood in battle in Europe during WWII was hard to stomach. I'm sure it was fairly true to the experience of soldiers at that time, but just too much information for me -- amputations, bodies being blown apart, rotting stinking flesh, dead decaying bodies of humans and animals... Wow, just too much (and not in a good way)!
This psychological war story is well conceived and well told for a first novel, although I found the romantic subplot a bit hard to swallow. The initial encounters between Heck, the young American GI, and the young French girl, as he, having newly arrived in Normandy, awaits his combat assignment, are plausible, but the likelihood of these two finding each other again, after months of separation, is implausible. Three and one-half stars.
Mar 01, 2009 Djrmel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George "Heck" Tilson turns eighteen years old just in time to do a full turn of duty in WWII. This short novel is not the story of a hero, or even a patriot. It's the story of putting one foot in front of the other when all your instincts are telling to stop and run away. I thought the ending was a bit contrived (Heck's life becomes entwined with Pvt. Eddie Slovak's life), but until then, it was a good read.
Aug 30, 2008 E rated it really liked it
A good companion to All Quiet on the Western Front, Regeneration,Flags of Our Fathers, The Quiet American, The Things They Carried, Red Badge of Courage, and other depressing but necessary fiction about the realism of war and those who don't necessarily want to fight it. Since this one is about the European theater of WWII, it would work well in conjunction with a viewing of Ken Burns' film The War.
Nov 02, 2009 Paul rated it it was ok
This is the story of Heck and his experiences in WWII. It is a Colorado Award Winner. I am not sure why. The story really does not have any redeeming qualities. It is about a coward and his experience with war. Ultimately he is confronted with his cowardice and has to make some decisions. There is a hint of love in the story, but it goes nowhere. The ending is not fulfilling.
Sep 15, 2012 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: One Book, One Denver selection
One Book, One Denver 2007. First novel by local boy.

Started slow. Parts I liked, parts I didn't. Sometimes I didn't like the writing style. Portrays Heck's conflict between his own cowardice and duty well, but I didn't really feel the emotional agony that I'm sure soldiers go through. Didn't really believe, or like, the whole love-interest line of the story.
Aug 05, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would like war literature, but this is a great book that draws you in. The main character is very easy to relate to. Arvin does a nice job of giving the background and detail needed to move the story along while allowing you to fill in spaces to help make the story a more individual tale. Great read.
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One Book One Denver 1 5 Sep 29, 2007 11:29PM  
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