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It's a Battlefield
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It's a Battlefield

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  293 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Drover, a Communist bus driver, is in prison appealing his death sentence for killing a policeman during a riot at Hyde Park Corner, a policeman he thought was about to club his wife. A battle rages to save Drover's life from the noose. The Assistant Commissioner, high-principled and over-worked; Conrad, a paranoid clerk; Mr. Surrogate, a rich Fabian; Condor, a pathetic jo ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1934)
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3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  293 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Review first posted on BookLikes:

“ ‘Yes,’ the secretary said, ‘it was about Drover. Now that the appeal has failed, it all rests on the Home Secretary. The poor dear man is worried, very worried, and all on top too of the licensing.’ The secretary’s wide pale face glistened softly under the concealed lighting and he leant forward with an infinite suggestion of frankness, with an overwhelming effect of guile. ‘To tell you the truth, he’d have been glad, he
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's London, between the wars, 1934. A man has killed a policeman during a strike; a riot had broken out, the bobby was poised to hit the striking workman's wife, and he instinctively defended her with his pocket knife.

The workman's name is Jim Drover. He's been sentenced to hang. An aging Assistant Commissioner, recently returned from the East, has been asked by a Minister to report to him on the pulse of the people; this has nothing to do with sentiment, or justice, he's up for reelection, an
فهد الفهد
إنها ساحة معركة

جراهام جرين من جديد، كنت قد قرأت له (حفلة القنبلة) قبل عام أو عامين، ومنذ ذلك الحين اقتنصت كل ما وجدته أمامي من كتبه – ما ترجم منها وما لم يترجم -، في هذه الرواية المبكرة يتناول جرين الأحداث والشخصيات التي تتمحور حول شنق شيوعي قام بطعن رجل شرطة هاجم زوجته، الظلال السياسية والعاطفية التي يلقيها الحكم واقتراب موعد التنفيذ على الرفاق في الحزب، والسياسيين، وزوجة الرجل وأخيه اللذان يرتبطان بعلاقة عاطفية، رواية سياسية عظيمة ونافذة.
Dane Cobain
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is definitely a product of its time, because there are some central themes following communism and the imprisonment and impending execution of a man who killed a policeman because he thought the policeman was about to hit his wife. It’s very much a human story, and that’s when Greene is at his best, at least in my opinion.

Still, I struggled to engage with this one, at least for a little while. Perhaps it’s because the communist elements were so far removed from what I see in my own day
May 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My least favorite Graham Greene so far, but even a bad Graham Greene book is better than most....
Daniel Polansky
The execution of a communist centers this somewhat scattershot depiction of the existences of a number of repressed individuals in 1930’s London . One of Greene’s earlier works, his prose is already down, and he maintains a keen understanding of how politics and governments muddle with personal morality, but there are a few too many characters and the whole thing doesn’t come together as neatly as his later masterpieces.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graham-greene
This early Graham Greene novel might be one of his lesser-known works, but it is written at top power, painting a bleak picture of a society where individuals are crushed in the workings of the state. The novel centres on the 'battle' to save Jim Drover, a London bus driver sentenced to death for murder, after fatally striking a policeman who was about to attack his wife during a public protest.

As with his previous book, 'Stamboul Train', this novel is told from various viewpoints. The condemne
David Russomano
Jun 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
I've really enjoyed some of Greene's other novels. Our Man in Havana was hilarious. The Quiet American was powerful. But this seemed to be a dry shell full of miserable characters. I shook it and I didn't like the sound of them all rattling around between the chapters. The only happiness found by the end of the story is a sort of sad, laughable satisfaction with a certain aspect of one's job. I'm not saying books need happy endings, but why is this novel so jam-packed with dysfunction? In all fa ...more
Alex Sarll
The earliest Graham Greene I've read, and not by much, but here it's much more apparent that we're not dealing with the finished article. The snatches of overheard speech, the constant shifts of perspective, had me thinking at times of dos Passos or Faulkner. One character labours under the unlikely name of Mr Surrogate, which seems more like a Waugh or Dickens moniker than a Greene one; another is named Conrad after a seaman who used to lodge with his family, and the sense of London as one of t ...more
Daniel Villines
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I truly enjoy Greene’s more serious works and It’s a Battlefield certainly qualifies as an attempt to be just that. The same poignant, insightful, and serious writing that seeks to expose the human condition to the world is prevalent throughout. Also missing from this book is the film-noir and comedic style that plagued Brighton Rock and Our Man in Havana (respectively). Therefore, everything that I love about Greene is here and everything that I dislike about Greene is absent.

I found the theme
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: british
Graham Greene has given me a lot over the years. In terms of an entire body of work, rather than a particular stand-out novel, he is probably one of my favourite British authors. Whilst some authors produce a dazzling fully-formed debut, though, Greene strikes me as someone who spent a number of years learning his trade and slowly developing into the writer he would become, finally hitting a run of truly impressive form in the late 40s which continued until somewhere after The Honorary Consul. A ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
This battlefield comes equipped with judicial and political wrangling, bacon, melancholy, and extreme Britishness. Mmm, bacon.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
"Do you believe in the way the country is organized?" asks the character Caroline Bury in It's a Battlefield. She is a woman who is connected, who "had chosen to exercise her passion for charity" in the territory of politics. The story follows Caroline Bury and others as they try to prevent a London bus driver named Jim Drover from hanging.

Graham Greene described the book as his 'first overtly political novel'. It was published in 1934, when Britain was experiencing the effects of the Great Depr
Doctor Moss
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is a relatively early (1934) book Greene, and I think it is interesting for its variety of characters. I don’t think it’s ever safe to say what you think an author was “really thinking," but what I liked here was the portrayal of a “battlefield” of characters, some in conflict with one another, but mostly each fighting an inner conflict.

The plot centers on a bus driver, Jim Drover, who, while protecting his wife during a riot, has killed a policeman. Jim, one of a number of characters parti
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: greene-graham, novel
While I will stress that a reader should be acquainted with four or five other Graham Greene novels before taking this in, I think any reader will agree that the Assistant Commissioner is a three-dimensional character. The book is at its best when he is in it.
Greene is still finding himself here. IT'S A BATTLEFIELD was published in 1934, and Greene lived (and wrote) until the early 1990s. There are vivid descriptions of buildings, but Greene's famous sense of place is still a bit fuzzy here. It
Nicholas Story, solicitor
I'd be interested in anybody else's views on this book, because it didn't quite do it for me. The plot looks great, but somehow it seems surprisingly dated. I suspect that the interchanging of characters from one paragraph to the next, and with no obvious protagonist was in vogue at the time. But I've always thought that the beauty of Greene's work is his ability to penetrate the human condition and its flaws by the careful study of his leads. Without this, the book lost a lot, and I wouldn't re ...more
Eugene Novikov
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I guess early Graham Greene is all woke panoramas, all the time; this follow up to "Orient Express" is a strange little novel that makes its point forcefully (we're all fighting our own insular little battles on a larger battlefield where the rules are set by the rich and privileged) but leaves a lot of characters hanging and doesn't have a ton of catharsis.
Kathryn Buchanan
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting though not particularly easy read.
Greene’s take on justice, loyalty and trust in a time of social turmoil and paranoia is brilliantly written; Graham Greene has definitely been added to my growing list of Favorite Authors. Realistic, mysterious and tragic - I loved this one.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
IT’S A BATTLEFIELD. (1934). Graham Greene. ***.
Set in London in the 1930s, this novel depicts the conditions of labor and industry in England as the workers begin to unite and form parties linked with Communism. The event that sparks things off occurs at a rally at Hyde Park Corner, where a policeman is stabbed by a man who believed that the policeman was about to his wife with a truncheon. After the man is arrested, his co-workers rally around to try and see that he receives justice in his case
Adrian Curtin
Jul 02, 2016 rated it liked it
'It's a Battlefield' is a small but tense drama set in London's inter-war period. It paints a bleak version of society that chews through individuals who act against their own ideals and principles for the benefit of a system they don't really believe in. The story center's around a man who killed a police office during a riot to protect his wife, but his character never plays any real role in the story, instead focusing on the complicated ways in which the other players dance around him. Appare ...more
While undeniably Greene in its dark exploration of the human condition, an early one that's probably only worth seeking out in context of his growth as a writer. Set in between-WW England, a man kills a policeman while defending his wife from brutality during a riot and, because he happens to be a communist, his fate lies entirely in the hands of political self-interest. It touches upon many of his themes, however the story itself does not develop beyond the repercussions over the course of a fe ...more
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
I LOVE Graham Greene, but this one was a struggle to get through. I was surprised and disappointed at this.
His usual habit of introspection in his characters seemed to overtake the story, with too much explanation of motive and history and development and hardly any actual events occurring. I found that it dragged on, and took me days to finish, whereas I would normally get through any of his novels (or entertainments) in a maximum of two.
Serjeant Wildgoose
A darker novel written in a more complex prose than his later works. I like Greene's work and love many of his books - I could not say that I love this one, but it sticks the great challenges of sacrifice, self-worth and betrayal centre-stage and as with so much of his work, forces the reader to examine their own values.
Aug 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting rewriting of Conrad's The Secret Agent, though ultimately, for me, less affecting because Conrad's coruscating irony is replaced by Greene's disgust. Greene doesn't quite seem as in command of his tone as he is in a later work like Brighton Rock. It's a weird, grumpy little book, and I like that about it, but it hasn't stayed with me.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
- loved the style. Devoid of any unnecessary words but still able of wonderful descriptions and to convey the atmosphere of the time.

- desperate characters. So human, lost in their own selves and worlds. Trying to connect, to find meaning.

- not all that easy to read but I enjoyed it.
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, uk, uk-author
Probably my least favourite GG novel, of those I have read.
Set in pre WWII London, with fear of Communism - I guess my knowledge of the background history is a bit sketchy.
I didn't really identify with any of the characters the way I have come to expect with a GG novel.
Brad Erickson
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Well, it's Graham Greene. Albeit, early Graham Greene, and it shows in that this is a somewhat rough novel. I had troubles following the narrative--the writing is a little stilted at times. But then again, it is Graham Greene, and therefore still a very good and worthy read.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I generally enjoyed the story--some of it didn't make total sense and the ultimate effect is kind of depressing. This includes about what you'd expect in a Greene novel: political movements, untrustworthy characters, and a patina of humor--most of it macabre in this instance.
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: english-lit
An early Greene with a political bent. The characters all have some issues.
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca
“[-] unemployment was not a mark of the lazy man; that the beggar did not beg because he would not work; that had once been the case in the England he knew best, but things were different now.” 0 likes
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