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The Secret Battle

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  45 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
This novel follows a young officer from Gallipoli to France where he is participant in a tragedy.
Paperback, 284 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1919)
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Jun 10, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war
War sucks.

If there's a central message to this book, that's it: war sucks. There is no glory in war. War may be inevitable, it may even be necessary, but it is not good and it is not glorious. And no one who goes into war ever comes out unscathed.

This book was first published in 1919, soon after the war it depicts, World War One. While it is a fictional story, the tale of a young British officer named Harry Penrose, it is based on the experiences of the author and other men who served in the Bri
Nov 07, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a writer A.P. Herbert was known for his comic work. This, however, his first book, is an altogether darker affair.

The Secret Battle, published in 1919, might be the first of the British novels/memoirs of the First World War. It tells the story of a high strung young soldier called Harry Penrose who enlists in 1914 and is executed for cowardice in 1917. Herbert, who fought at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, vividly evokes the squalor of both theatres, more so than in some better known boo
Jul 08, 2012 Suz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Battle, a 1919 book by A. P. Herbert, available free at Project Gutenberg. It is fairly short, but very well worth it for the amazing descriptions of the struggles, both petty and major, experienced by junior officers in Gallipoli and France. It is written as a sort of fictional memoir from the point of view of a narrator, who is writing to set the record straight about his friend, Harry Penrose. The story is a protest against the mercilessness of the military machine, and does a very ...more
Jul 28, 2013 Epictetus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

An account of life of an infantry officer of the Great War, as literature but based on personal experience. The book was said to have influenced Churchill and other profoundly. It deals with how a brave, dutiful officer can nonetheless end up being shot for cowardice. It explores some aspects of the social and psychological sides of warfare and also the managerial politics. (It would be nice to think that Tony Bliar, Gordon Brown and other British politicians of the current generati
Herbert would become better known later in his career as a humourist, but this early novel received wide acclaim upon its release even if it did not find a similarly robust market. Offers an account of Gallipoli, among other things.
Dec 15, 2013 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
A powerful and moving account of the life of a junior infantry officer during the Great War. Published in 1919 the novel draws on Herbert's own experiences in the conflict. Although the narrative can sometimes feel a little dated by modern standards it has an immediacy that is obviously informed by recent experience.

As the action moves from Gallipoli to the Somme it vividly portrays the physical and mental stresses of modern warfare. Neither does it shy away from the establishment's lack of unde
Oct 10, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this as powerful on its second reading, years after the first time I opened it, as it was then. It's a timeless masterpiece about the effects of war on a sensitive, educated young officer. The narrative is unadorned and simple, as a friend tells of the battle within the victim-hero overwhelmed by the nightmare of the First World War. He struggles with his suffering until his actions to save himself and his men are tragically misunderstood. Gripping, insightful and a must-read classic.
Proof of the fact that as early as that people grasped the meaning of shell-shock/PTSD and how much the army doctrines were resented.
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Sir Alan Patrick Herbert, CH (usually writing as A.P. Herbert or A.P.H.) (24 September 1890 – 11 November 1971) was an English humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist. He was an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Oxford University for 15 years, five of which he combined with service in the Royal Navy.
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