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Her Privates We

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  855 ratings  ·  90 reviews
First published in 1930, 'Her Privates We' is the great book of World War I written from the ordinary soldier's point of view.

Called the "book of books" by Lawrence of Arabia, 'Her Privates We' is an expressionist classic that magnificently captures the horror of war.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 11th 1999 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1929)
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  855 ratings  ·  90 reviews


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Vit Babenco
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button… Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors? …Faith, her privates we. In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true. She is a strumpet.” William ShakespeareHamlet.
Her Privates We is a psychological portrait of war seen through Private Bourne’s eyes… And a psychological portrait of soldier…
One had lived instantaneously during that timeless interval, for in the shock and violence of the attack, the perilous instant, on which he sto
...more
Mike Robbins
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Frederic Manning is an oddly elusive figure. Born in Australia in 1882, he migrated to England as a teenager. A friend, at various times, of Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats and T. E. Lawrence, he was regarded by many contemporaries as a fine writer, and his literary ambition was considerable. But he was affected throughout his life by a weak chest. Also, he drank. In the end he was really only ever known for one book, and little else that he wrote is much read today.

That o
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
From the back cover of this edition: "The finest and noblest book of men in war that I have ever read. I read it over once each year to remember how things really were so that I will never lie to myself nor to anyone else about them." - Ernest Hemingway

I have a "thing" to read about World War One. This was different than All Quiet on the Western Front and I think not as good. It was less emotional, for one thing. Remarque writes more about the fighting itself and how it scars the individual psyc
...more
Katie Lumsden
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Very historically interesting, with some powerful and moving passages, but for me the writing was fairly weak and unengaging.
Charlotte
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Hemingway stated that this book was, "The finest and noblest book of men in war" - although I have never been too enthusiastic about Hemingway, this really is a great piece of text. There is a lot of waiting around and little action.
sslyb
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, uk, ww-i
Started kind of slow. I put it down a few times. By the time I'd finished I liked it better than All Quiet on the Western Front.
Sara
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every so often a book comes along that defines a generation in a certain time and place. This is just one of those books. Her Privates We tells the story of the ordinary men fighting for Britain in the trenches at Somme in the summer and fall of 1916. The language and events described are raw and unflinching. They are not the idealized, separate world of the officer corp, but the war as it was, filled with filth and muck, anger and apathy.

We are told this story through the third person narrativ
...more
Sophie
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books
Set in the trenches during WWI, I would never have read this book had it not been on the 1001 Books list. I'm really glad I did as it was surprisingly moving. There is hardly any plot to the book and very little action or actual fighting - the soldiers are mostly moving from one French village to another, enduring constant mud, filthy conditions, bad food and cold. And lice - oh the lice parts were revolting, the idea of being infested with lice and unable to do anything about it is truly ghastl ...more
Roger Brunyate
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, ww1
The most authentic WW1 novel, not necessarily the best

Frederick Manning was born in Australia in 1882, son of the Mayor of Sydney. In 1898, however, he moved to England with the clergyman who had become his mentor, and remained there for most of the rest of his life. Although not physically strong, and at first rejected, he persisted in volunteering for the army. He finally joined up in late 1915, serving on the Somme and Ancre, first as a private and later, despite his own wishes, as a not-very
...more
Brenda Clough
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great example of the problem with first-person or journal point of view, which the author solves on the last page. I won't spoil it for you.
Juli Rahel
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Born in Australia in 1882, Manning moved to England in 1898 with a close friend and finally settled there in 1903. He started a career of writing reviews and independent fictional work here and there, becoming friends with the likes of Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington. He enlisted in 1915 and became Private 19022, which he used as a pseudonym later to publish Her Privates We. He was sent to the Battle of the Somme, the experience of which he recounts in his novel. Manning wasn't a healthy man an ...more
Daniel
Feb 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Reading fictional accounts of war and violence, I have often come across the sentiment that soldiers will spend most of their time waiting for a combat situation that lasts minutes, if not seconds. Frederic Manning's semi-fictional - the place and event are fact; the characters, fiction - account of British soldiers moving from one front to another during the early stages of World War I confirms this observation. The majority of the book is about the men who fought in World War I and what their ...more
Stuart
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
This was another of the books I was led to by reading the biography of Lawrence of Arabia. Both he and Robert Graves rated it a classic of World War 1 literature. It was indeed very good. It was not a long book (250 pages or so), but it was tightly packed with introspective thoughts about what it was to be a soldier in WW1. (The author had of course been one). It very much brought out the "hurry up and wait" that seems to be the soldier's lot. And unlike many memoirs of the 1st War, it focused o ...more
Senna Black
This book was originally published in limited release in 1929, then as an expurgated edition entitled "The Middle Parts of Fortune" in 1930. The unexpurgated version was not widely available until 1977. Commonly considered one of the best novels based on experiences of WWI, with fans such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and T. E. Lawrence. Reminiscent of "All Quiet on the Western Front" and Siegfried Sassoon’s Sherston Trilogy in that it centres on Richard Bourne, a character who serves mostly a ...more
Devashree Vyas
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Date read: 15.02.2018
Date of review: 23.04.2018

Rating: 3.5/5

“Above his monotonous voice one could hear, now and again, a little wind stray through the drying leaves of the trees. A leaf or two might flutter down, and scratch against the bark of trunk or boughs with a crackling papery rustle.”

Her Privates We is a highly detailed account of a british soldier during the First World War scenario. Based entirely in a scenario where the soldier, along with fellow patriots, is on the warfront, this bo
...more
Becky
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
Her Privates We is one of that small group of excellent novels (such as "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich") about the retention of humanity in the face of extraordinary hardship. It's mostly about Bourne, a mysterious soldier who has to constantly dodge promotion, who we understand probably comes from a background of some standing but would rather remain a nameless soldier. It's about a life in the trenches that was mostly mundane between flashes of sheer terror, and about the ridiculousness ...more
Mike
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The bulk of this book is soldier's milling around outside the frontlines, doing endless parades, trying to get out of grunt work, complaining about officers, and spending vingt frong on some vin for a nice evening. You get to know Bourne and his buddies and get a bit of a feel for the army. It's almost enough to make you forget the book opens with a roll call where everyone is speaking up to confirm who died and how.

When they finally go over the top, it's a gritty, brutal, and emotional moment
...more
Bill Maxwell
‘What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?’, was the apocryphal refrain in the Twenties and Thirties. This book tells the story. Quite definitely this is the classic British Infantryman’s story of the Western Front. Written from the ordinary soldier’s perspective and not that of the majority of books about the war which were written by literary young officers, this book has the feel of war as experienced by the artisans. There is much that appears hum-drum broken up by short sharp periods of heig ...more
Sammy
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't know if this is my kind of book, since I find war novels and memoirs unsettling, but the excerpts and chapters I read convinced me that Manning - a delicate, largely English figure who shared some familial relationship with Australia - wrote the fantastic WWI novel that many critics of the time felt this to be.

For me, the most affecting moment is when the narrator recalls a loss of spirit halfway through the deployment, once the men have seen real action, and realised that the Germans o
...more
David White
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
War has always been like this

This is what war has been since the dawn of time. Men will form bonds, knowing that they should not.
New men arrive to take the place of those lost, and are forever "the new guys". This is not right or fair but, that's the way
It is.
This book takes you back to the bloody days of World War 1. It's a good read.
Anna Gunn
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Least we forget.
Hannah
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The realistic account of war is harrowing and heartbreaking. It is a haunting read but it really captures the sense of fatalism amongst the soldiers so well.
Stuart
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War Sucks

Written from a soldier’s perspective, the author captures the resentment and despair of the fighters who go on, solely because dying is no worse an option.
Kara
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
mmmm, no thanks!
Brook
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping and personal

Read once, im going to immediately start over for a second go. Could have been set in Vietnam as easily as France. Real, close, and vital.
Bob Kaufman
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-books-read
Good discussion of what the men faced in WWI, told from the perspective of one soldier.
Andrew Brown
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful, moving book that brought the war on the Western Front to life.
Susannah Hume
This book was originally published in limited release in 1929, then as an expurgated edition entitled "The Middle Parts of Fortune" in 1930. The unexpurgated version was not widely available until 1977. Commonly considered one of the best novels based on experiences of WWI, with fans such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and T. E. Lawrence. Reminiscent of "All Quiet on the Western Front" and Siegfried Sassoon’s Sherston Trilogy in that it centres on Richard Bourne, a character who serves mostly a ...more
Jen
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Full review on my blog with photos but highly recommended book!

http://thereadersroom.org/2015/03/26/...



Her Privates We refers to the common soldiers who fought during World War I. The novel is the fictionalized account of the author’s own experiences as a soldier. It is a extraordinary account of the lives of foot soldiers that is told with the elegance and emotionally-evocative brilliance that only the best authors can achieve.

Manning first published this book under the title, The Middle Part
...more
Christine
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Death, of course, like chastity, admits no degree; a man is dead or not dead, and a man is just as dead by one means as by another; but it is infinitely more horrible and revolting to see a man shattered and eviscerated, than to see him shot."

Her Privates We is based on the author's experiences fighting in WWI. Written in surprisingly refined prose, the book is an illustration of both the physical and psychological aspects of war - the dehumanization, the impossibility of coping with sudden los
...more
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Manning was born in 1882 in Sydney, Australia, and whose father was a one-time mayor. Educated privately, he was thereafter sent to England to complete his studies.

In the immediate pre-war years Manning established a reputation as a minor poet and critic among a small circle of intimates.

With the outbreak of war in August 1914 Manning enlisted as a Private with the 7th Battalion King's Shropshire
...more
“Death, of course, like chastity, admits of no degree; a man is dead or not dead, and a man is just as dead by one means as by another; but it is infinitely more horrible and revolting to see a man shattered and eviscerated, than to see him shot. And one sees such things; and one suffers vicariously, with the inalienable sympathy of man for man. One forgets quickly. The mind is averted as well as the eyes. It reassures itself after that first despairing cry: "It is I!"

"No, it is not I. I shall not be like that."

And one moves on, leaving the mauled and bloody thing behind: gambling, in fact, on that implicit assurance each one of us has of his own immortality. One forgets, but he will remember again later, if only in his sleep.”
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“Above his monotonous voice one could hear, now and again, a little wind stray through the drying leaves of the trees. A leaf or two might flutter down, and scratch against the bark of trunk or boughs with a crackling papery rustle.” 1 likes
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