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The Wars
 
by
Timothy Findley
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The Wars

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,560 Ratings  ·  311 Reviews
Sixty years after the armistice, the horrors of the First World War were still spurring antiwar literature, one of the most compelling of which is Timothy Findley's The Wars. Slim and elliptical, but told with a level-headed, lyrical clarity, The Wars traces the atrocities and absurdities of war through the journey of a young Canadian officer through trenches in which barb ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by Delacorte Press
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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
I almost did it last night. When I finished this book, I was too overjoyed by its beauty, I thought of putting the book in front of me, stand up and applaud. It’s just that I was not at home. I was in a 24-hr Dunkin’ Donuts outlet and people would definitely stare at me and think that I was a losing my mind. I did not know what to do. My head was spinning with joy and I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.

Come to think of it, as a reader, how do you celebrate finishing a great novel? At the
...more
Michael
Moving account of one Canadian man’s experience with World War 1. The novel is barely 200 pages, so what we have here is no sweeping coverage of the war, nor an in-depth immersion in the horrors. But we get enough pictures of Robert Ross’s life leading up to the war for his character to shine through and then sufficient samples from the stages of his training and long service at Ypres in Belgium to feel very intimately the destructive power of the “War to End All Wars”. Findley uses plain and cl ...more
Laura
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I waited a little while to write this review, because it felt like a book I needed to muse over for a while. But to be honest I don't think the extra time helped; my feelings about this book are still a bit muddled and overwhelming. I did like it very much, although maybe not quite as much by the end as I thought I would at the beginning. I think the narrative structure (although objectively I can say that it works very effectively) kept me from connecting emotionally to the degree that I expect ...more
Mikey B.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mikey B. by: Aloke
Shelves: canada
I was very impressed by this war novel – one of the best I have read. The more I progressed in the book, the more enamored I became, and drawn into the different settings and characters.

All was wonderfully envisioned as one becomes immersed in the narrative. The ending is (view spoiler), but after all this is war – a vast barbaric machine.

I had never heard of this Canadian author, so thanks go to the GR network!

The first twenty to thirty pages are rather intangible, but a
...more
Regine
I hate reviewing Timothy Findley books. The reason is, I'm always at a loss for words because of how emotionally straining it is to read one of his novels. I hate rereading my review of "Not Wanted on the Voyage" because I realize that my words don't do justice to his books, (and most of my review was a rant about Margaret Atwood.)

Let's not get off track. I'll try to express my feelings about this book as coherently as I can. I'm on such an emotional high from finishing the book, that I feel lik
...more
Brad
This review was written in the late nineties (just for myself), and it was buried in amongst my things until today, when I uncovered the journal it was written in. I have transcribed it verbatim from all those years ago (although square brackets indicate some additional information for the sake of readability). It is one of my lost reviews.

Fragments. That is the greatest strength of Canadian Literature for me -- the masterful use of fragments. Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient is certainly
...more
Rick Patterson
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply one of the best novels ever, this is a stunning read because it immerses the reader so completely into the experience of Robert Ross that it's hard to extract oneself afterward. I found myself thinking and seeing and imagining the way he does for a long while after I had finished the book--or it had finished with me for the time being. For some reason there are a great many books that are ostensibly about the Great War (WWI), including Birdsong and The Ghost Road and Goodbye To All That, ...more
Aloke
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading a book by Timothy Findley as a teenager in Toronto. My parents had a copy of "The Last of the Crazy People" on their shelves and I randomly picked it up. I think the cover appealed to me. I don't remember much about it now except that it made me feel uncomfortable. Looking it up I see it's considered a pioneer of the "Southern Ontario gothic" genre! Not really YA I guess.

Fast forward a few decades and a Facebook acquaintance posted this link to required reading for students a
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I wanted this to expand on my WWI reading experience. It did in a rather minor way. Many of the books on trench warfare speak of the mud. Findley does a better job of making this phenomenon real than anything else I've read.
The mud. There are no good similes. Mud must be a Flemish word. Mud was invented here. Mudland might have been its name. The ground is the colour of steel. Over most of the plain there isn't a trace of topsoil: only sand and clay. The Belgians call them 'clyttes,' these fiel
...more
HyL
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-books
Beauty and pain. Pathos and prosaic passion. Heartrending, compassionate, truth. No one says it like Tiff did.


"It's the ordinary men and women who've made us what we are. Monstrous, complacent and mad" (Pg15).

"Staring down expressionless, he watched as his reflection was beaten into submission by the rain" (Pg18).

"All of these actors were obeying some kind of fate we call 'revenge'. Because a girl had died -- and her rabbits had survived her" (Pg23).

Findlay structures characters, narrative and
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
World War 1. The trench warfare. Principal protagonists both male, young and handsome. This, and Sebastian Faulk's "Birdsong" (another 1001 book which I would have reviewed, and given five stars, had I not read it long before I joined goodreads).

When you get so much, or even just a second helping, of the same thing your pleasure tends to be less and less. You'll go, hey, I've seen this before: family, war, a little sex and romance, the present's memory suddenly hurtling towards the past, the bea
...more
Paul
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2011, Canadian parents challenged the inclusion of Timothy Findley's award-winning novel The Wars on a high school reading list, describing it as depraved and full of sex. I mentioned the challenge in one of my periodic banned book blog entries and promised myself I'd read it. It took me a year to run down a copy -- it's a Canadian novel from the 1970s and you never see it on book store shelves, at least here in the States -- but with the help of a bookseller friend I tracked it down.

And I'm
...more
Mmars
Oct 02, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

The Wars by Timothy Findley would be a great pick for a book club looking for a WWI book. It practically begs to be discussed. It is broken into five parts, all focusing on the same Canadian soldier. Each section has a different focus – pre-war at home, the trenches, etc. Written in 1977, to me it seems early in the timeline of disjointed fiction. And, as I have found with many such works, it was a mixed bag. It was interesting to study the various threads and the symbolism scattered t
...more
Noémie Courtois
Probablement le meilleur roman sur la guerre que j'ai jamais lu! Je suis sans mots.
Lauren
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Canadian attitudes towards war are strangely more encapsulating than American attitudes. There seems no definitive pride in victory; only in living.
Creaturecare8
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, adult
I don't recommend. Worst book ever. I would only try reading it again to see if I like it in twenty years, or to see whether I was biased based on the school setting that I was in.
Gillik
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Brutal and raw, and yet because of the narrative technique not a little reserved. Somehow it all works.

I wonder if Findley's intention wasn't to completely upend all the traditional 'war story' cliches. Instead of the loyal band of brothers-in-arms (who die off one by one in the most tearjerking manner possible, preferably after a good death speech), other soldiers drift in and out of Robert Ross' life, often in only a page or two, without us ever learning much about any of them. People lose the
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Victoria ❦
I am alive in everything I touch. Touch these pages and you have me in your fingertips. We survive in one another. Everything lives forever. Believe it. Nothing dies.



read this for school
Janna
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two really great things going on in Timothy Findley's The Wars.

Firstly, is the narrative technique. The book is written from the perspective of a historian trying to make sense of a moment of madness in the middle of the First World War. Findley accomplishes this goal through mixed medium narrating, using journal entries, interviews, photographs and the historian's conjecture. This keeps the story mysterious and engages the reader in a sort of detective, choose-your-own-adventure kind
...more
Tiffany
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-fiction
I struggled to appreciate this book in the beginning because I found no beauty in the writing. It was straightforward, simplistic, even a little patronizing at times. (Like we know 1916 was a leap year if the date is February 29. Thanks.) The characters lay flat for the most part, and I scoffed at the suspense Findley was attempting to construct surrounding "the event with the horses", which I knew would probably disappoint me. I didn't come away feeling like I had become acquainted with the mai ...more
Megan
Dec 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noone
Recommended to Megan by: Teacher
I had to read this for my grade 12 English class, and I have to say that it is, without a doubt, one of the worst books I have ever read.
It has horrible pacing, and no consistency as to the "Voice" telling the story. It was supposed to be told from the point of view of a historian, but there was often detail in scenes that the historian couldn't have access to (IE rape scene), Directly followed by a scene that was glossed over that should have been given more time (IE the entire last chapter)
T
...more
Booklovinglady
The book is a very clever mix of a researcher trying to piece together the actions and short life of 19-year-old Robert Ross during The Great War, and the immense atrocities of the war as seen through the eyes of Robert Ross himself.

Interesting is the plural form of the title: To me it implied both the First World War and the war Robert is fighting within himself...

I had rated the book 4 to 4 stars originally but the more I thought about the book and its story while writing my Dutch review for t
...more
TJ
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a student I was tutoring. I found out it was Canadian literature an it's often studied in school. While historical/warfare lit is not my thing, the psychological journey and interrogation of masculinity and the hero was quite nuanced. A lot of different layers and meanings to take from this one. Surprisingly enjoyed it.
Bryan Ma
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did not understand it at all when I read it for the first time. This is definitely one of those novels that you have to reread multiple times (which I did).

Still don't understand it.

There are some very explicit scenes in this novel. Would not recommend that you read those passages aloud to company as a way to pass the time.

Laura Brennan
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
love the commentary on animals within this book, so relatable. why do humans value themselves above any other life form? made me question my morals, overall becoming a bit disgusted with humanity.
Antoinette
This was a good book, but not a great book for me. It was choppy and disjointed and really lost me at times. When the story was actually in the war zone, it was outstanding. There was a scene when they are sprayed with gas which I will always remember. This book is about 19 year old Robert Ross, a sensitive soul, whether it be to his treasured sister, to his fellow soldiers or to the horses he valued. The author does a fine job of showing the ravages of war, especially in the last 40 pages or so ...more
Edwin Lang
The book had a solitary feel to it and it seemed like a testament to what a soldier silently endures as one simply tries to survive. Whether a part of a company or an army, it goes against everything man is made to be. It is one thing to suffer deprivation in pursuit of some goal but it is another to suffer in a straightjacket, as the men at Ypres had. It is not so much the sheer waste of it that was horrible and horrifying but to be at the mercy of so much indifferent incompetence.

What lighten
...more
Vivian Ton
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote a review earlier but accidentally deleted it. Which was... disappointing, but I'll stop my bemoaning.
-
Anyway - I read The Wars for the first time this year as we studied it in class, and I've got to say, it's one of those that needs at least a couple rereads to be thoroughly appreciated. Findley's prose is devastatingly beautiful and so visually immersive -- the story of Robert Ross unfolds almost cinematically and reads like a dream. For being such a short read, I admire Findley's skill
...more
Joanie
What to say about this book? Who is Robert Ross?

Oh, the difficulty of giving praise to a novel I enjoyed rather than criticizing one I disliked! I've previously read Timothy Findley's The Piano Man's Daughter and honestly don't remember much about it at all. It just wasn't that memorable to me - all I know is that I didn't love or hate it. I vaguely remember the plot, but I don't feel like giving it a re-read to find out more. Disappointment.

And that's why I was so surprised to find out that thi
...more
Lucie
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Wars by Timothy Findley
November 2016
2/5
*Read as part of my Advanced Literature English class in college 1 (grade 12)*

If I could draw how this book was for me it would be the graphic of an reciprocal function: starts high, and quickly becomes very low until it almost reaches zero. I had no expectations going into The Wars mostly becomes it was an adult novel, and we all know how much I dislike those. Yet, it started quite well, the beginning was interesting and even if the language was quite
...more
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16865
Timothy Irving Frederick Findley was a Canadian novelist and playwright. He was also informally known by the nickname Tiff or Tiffy, an acronym of his initials.

One of three sons, Findley was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Allan Gilmour Findley, a stockbroker, and his wife, the former Margaret Maude Bull. His paternal grandfather was president of Massey-Harris, the farm-machinery company. He was rais
...more
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“I doubt we will ever be forgiven. All I hope is – they'll remember we were human beings” 48 likes
“People can only be found in what they do.” 31 likes
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