Today students we deal with a love triangle, the worst polygon in geometry. Because we know the math will never, ever work.
Paul, an frustrated and floToday students we deal with a love triangle, the worst polygon in geometry. Because we know the math will never, ever work.
Paul, an frustrated and floundering art student in a 1914 London school searches for love, first with a model and later with a fellow student Elinor. Elinor is also close with Kit Neville a brilliant artist who wants to marry Elinor. But Elinor keeps both men at bay. She is emotionally detached and does not want to end up like her miserable parents and married older sister. Then World War I starts and both Paul and Kit, first rejected by Elinor then the British Army, volunteer for the Belgian Red Cross. This is where the book takes flight Barker's writing skills excel.
Her writing is so descriptive, not only of the horrors of caring for the wounded soldiers, capturing the sights, smells and sounds but of the emotional toll. One doctor in anger kicks an amputated leg across the operating room floor. A nurse comes along as clean up squad and picks up the leg. Very well written but not preachy, not a lecture, just a perspective of war told mostly from Paul and how it changes him. This is juxtaposed to the letters to Paul from Elinor of her life in London as an artist and going to parties of social matrons. But in the background, Elinor is also writing to Kit. The girl wants it all but she wants neither one of them.
The thing I did not like about the book is that as good as the writing is, the book never went far enough with the characters. It felt incomplete. Not that it needed to be 800 pages or a trilogy like "Regeneration" but there just was not enough insight into the characters. Just a brief glimpse of their life in art school, then off to war in Ypres. Then it ends. But I love Barker's writing style. I just wanted more than a peek in the window of the characters lives. ...more
This book is about William Mandella and his military career. A career that last for centuries due to time dilation caused by his travels near the speeThis book is about William Mandella and his military career. A career that last for centuries due to time dilation caused by his travels near the speed of light to distant planets through worm-hole like devices called collapsars. Mandella spends a few years traveling to distant planets, fighting battles and when he comes home to Earth, decades have pasted. Yes, at last,a book that uses Einstein's relativity theory. Most soldiers don't survive the battles, a lot die in training on base. Space is a dangerous place to be with ice and low gravity. A miscalculation in the angle of travel in a collapsar and you are lost, maybe for good.
But Mandella survives and returns to a very different Earth that he can no longer adapt to so he reenlist and after a time decades become centuries on Earth's timeline and Mandella is promoted to Major and he will be in charge of soldiers that have not been born yet. The one person who is from his timeline and who is is lover, Marygay is promoted but sent to work on a different planet. This of course is devastating for Mandella because she will age differently due to the time dilation and he will probably never see her again. By this point in the book, the Earth is overpopulated and everyone except a few like Mandella are homosexuals. Being heterosexual gets Mandella tagged as "the old queer" by his troops. His soldiers hate him so much that when Mandella wants to join his troops and fight on the surface of a planet, his captain says no don't do it, they will kill you. And he is not referring to the enemy. Everyone looks alike due to the blending of the races. To further add to Mandella's isolation, the English dialect is so different, his soldiers have to learn 20th century English to speak to him. But his choices are to be a Major, isolated and hated by his troops or live on an ever more hostile, extremely dangerous and overpopulated Earth. Society has evovled and Mandella has to adapt.
I loved this book. I did not expect to love it so much. The descriptions of the hazards of training on a harsh planet covered in ice with endless possibilities of space suit malfunctions. The military encourages the soldiers to pick someone to sleep with because most likely you will die so enjoy yourself now. Don't jump to high in the low gravity or you may never come down. Hell lots of soldiers died even before they saw any battles. The battle plans, the weapon and ship descriptions and the fear of meeting an enemy and not knowing if their technology is ahead or behind yours because of the timeline. All done so well and Mandella who is not thrilled about war or being in command just makes the story so much more fun to read. Highly, highly recommended. ...more
A true story of a WW II Black G.I, Herman Perry who is sent to Burma to build a road to China for Chiang Kai-shek. Perry endures nightmarish hardshipsA true story of a WW II Black G.I, Herman Perry who is sent to Burma to build a road to China for Chiang Kai-shek. Perry endures nightmarish hardships including 16 hr days of breaking rocks under intense heat, malaria, leaches, and racism that push him to murder a overbearing and abusive white Lieutenant. To escape a trial and certain death sentence, Perry flees to the dense jungle of Burma and settles in with a tribe of savage headhunters.
I had heard of the Burma road before and knew it was built by Black soldiers but to learn the history behind this road was fascinating. History lessons in school never reveal shady side of Franklin Roosevelt's involvement with the dictator Chiang Kai-shek, who only wanted the road to loot neighboring countries. And to learn of Roosevelt's family history of heroin trade in China was a bit of a surprise.
This road was built by black soldier's used as slave labor yet black soldier's were not welcomed by the Chinese to travel on this road to celebrate its opening. Perry was seen as a hero to many black soldiers because he fought back against an oppressive racist government that thought black soldiers were only use in war was manual labor and cooks and Perry hid in the last place the army would look for him. Fascinating read. ...more