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Company K (The Library of Alabama Classics)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  790 ratings  ·  91 reviews
With an Introduction by Philip D. Beidler

This book was originally published in 1933. It is the first novel by William March, pen name for William Edward Campbell. Stemming directly from the author's experiences with the US Marines in France during World War I, the book consists of 113 sketches, or chapters, tracing the fictional Company K's war exploits and providing an e
Paperback, 260 pages
Published 1989 by University of Alabama Press (first published 1933)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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Dec 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: Philip Biedler, Professor of English, The University of Alabama
Company K,William March's "non-fiction" Novel of World War I

When Truman Capote claimed to have created a new literary form, the non-fiction novel,In Cold Blood in 1966, he was about thirty three years behind the times. William March. beat him to the punch in 1933 with his novel Company K.

Recently, I reviewed Patrica Anthony's lost classic, Flanders, the story of a young American, Travis Lee Stanhope and his experience as a young man who volunteered to fight with the British prior to America's e
Mark Mortensen
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwi, usmc, fiction
William Edward Campbell served with the Marine Corps during WWI in Company K of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 4th Brigade, within the 2nd Division. Drawing from his personal experiences he wrote this powerful fictitious novel using the pen name William March. From the beginning of the war to the return home the author portrays how one mans life was dramatically changed under the philosophy of “you don’t come out the way you went in”.
Rebecca McNutt
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent book by the author of The Bad Seed. The war experiences in the story are vivid and powerful, and every character is interesting.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ordinary men: career soldiers, volunteers, and draftees; compassionate and callous; reluctant combatants and enthusiastic murderers; educated and illiterate; smart and stupid, honorable men and criminals, cowards, and shirkers. Some are true believers in the idea of war to end all war, or in the allied propaganda that all Germans are murderous brutes deserving of whatever they get. Others sneer at the idea of the fighting having any noble aims or higher purpose, and see only the inefficiency and ...more
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
A masterful work by March, this novel is a rich and powerful description of much of WWI. March speaks from experience to create entries by various characters, many of these entries being short, but nonetheless complete stories describing multiple aspects of the war. Although the entries are often brief, March effectively submerses the reader into the world each soldier lived in, describing with such detail the experiences of each soldier that one can almost feel the uniform on himself and hear t ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day set aside each year to show respect for veterans who served in the great wars. Politicians stand in front of war memorials and yap about young men making the ultimate sacrifice against the forces of evil. It's all very shallow, sappy and sacrosanct. But what was the Great War, anyhow? How, in these empty, symbolic gestures, has the real war been lost?

WWI was a stupid, pointless war fought by a dying aristocracy. Millions of men snuffed out with mechanic
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, one that has accompanied me on every cross-country move, a piece of WWI literature that deserves far more recognition than it gets. Written by an decorated veteran of the Great War, Company K offers an semi-fictionalized account of the unit's experiences, from deployment to decades after the war ends.

Each member of the group tells his own story in the first person, and each has a very different perspective, from deserters to cold-blooded murderers, philosophers to poli
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really good WWI book. A series of 113 very short (two or three pages) stories that interconnect. Surprised I'd never heard of this one before... its definitely up there with the other classic WWI books.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
One of the best books I have ever read. A revelatory and soul jarring comment on the folly of war as we know it. The writing is exceptional and the style is totally fresh (to me at least). Read this book. 5 stars.
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ker by: Mr. Blake
In high school, the book that got me labeled a communist by my friend's dad. Should be read with Slaughterhouse-Five to ward off ignorance, arrogance, and tendencies of warmongering.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it liked it
This novel is one of the unpatriotic novels about the First World War. Along with "All Quiet on the Western Front", "Three Soldiers" and "A Farewell to Arms", this novel broke through the barrier of war novels that served to glorify the side of a war on which its author had once fought. While I really enjoyed "All Quiet" and "Farewell", "Company K" was a bit too abstract for me.

"Company K" is the story of an American Marine infantry company on during the First World War. It traces the experience
Willem van den Oever
Company K” is one of the more intense novels written about World War One; a bleak and direct narrative entirely void of sentiment or hope. In it, members of the army unit describe their experiences before, during and after the Great War. A hundred young men - hardly any of them having any experience on the battlefield - start their training filled with enthusiasm and bravery. But from the prologue, years after the war in which a conversation regarding the evil of murder is discussed, we know mo ...more
Vic Nicholas
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A “Band of Brothers” for the First World War, and a relatively rare glimpse into the experience of American Marines in the trenches, “Company K” is a vital and intense novel. Told through the eyes of 113 different soldiers in short chapters and comprised largely of experiences that the author witnessed himself during his time serving in France, “Company K” is an experience that is not easily forgotten.

Once described as “an anthology of dismay” by Christopher Morley, I would venture that the shor
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
All most of us know of war is through the movies we have watched. The story is told of John Wayne visiting a hospital in Hawaii during WWII and being soundly booed by the Marines who were their healing. They knew the truth of what war was like and that it was nothing like what he had portrayed on screen. This book is a story of a company in WWI. It is raw and honest in its descriptions. You read about senseless violence. The language is true to the era, as it was written by a member of this comp ...more
Fred Dameron
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
If the fate of todays veterans concerns you the last 100 pages of Co. K are a must read. March has the credentials to talk about what really happens to people involved in a war. His descriptions of pre - enlistment, training, combat, and, most important to me the aftermath are spot on. Those of us who have served can see those we served with in these pages. We can also see those who did well after their service and those who have not done well. The post war part is truly moving and I see some of ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww1-fiction
Short, brutal, and heart-breaking. Company K is made up of over a hundred short narratives and vignettes, most of them two to three pages long, told in no particular order, about what happened to the soldiers of that company over the course of a year in the first World War, and in some cases about how the war follows them even back in the States. It's not an easy read, and many of the stories are ones that make you put down the book for a moment to marvel at the cruelty of mankind, and the hopel ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an awesome read! I was afraid the book might be too gruesome for me, but it wasn’t. I have a much better understanding of the war experience now that I’ve read this novel. It consists of a bunch of very short chapters. Each one describes one particular incident, told from the point of view of a particular soldier. Each chapter is narrated by a different soldier. Sometimes, they are telling about the same incident, but from a different point of view. The novel tells the complete story in ...more
Alec Gray
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A little known semi-fictional account of an American soldier (from Mobile) in WWI. A. Ed unique story structure with 50or more individual vignettes that wheel around in time and intersect in fascinating ways. But most of all a brutal indictment of war. Amazing how many anti-war works came out of Americans who went to France to fight the "war to end all wars". Probably why the book is so little known
Grayson Kelly
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Deeply affecting" doesn't begin to describe my feelings upon finishing this book, but it's the best I can do - all other words fail me. Though it is officially fiction, I do not doubt that most if not all of the accounts within are based on true events.

"You can always tell an old battlefield where many men have lost their lives. The next Spring the green comes up greener and more luxuriant than on the surrounding countryside; the poppies are redder, the corn-flowers more blue. They grow over t
B.H. 521
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had to read this book for my college honors history class, and let's just be clear, I did not enjoy this book. I'm not gonna lie in saying that I did like a few entries here and there, but the majority of it, like a good 80% of it, was just weird, and pointless. I don't recommend it if you aren't into the whole diary written type of book. I would give it a try if you are a history geek, since it was based off of WWI soldiers. RATING: TWO STARS; it was okish.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the World War 1, pictured through the short stories told by 113 men belonging to the Company K. The stories give a grass-level look of the war in many places, at the same time building a bigger picture about the company itself, about the war and things that will follow the men back home after the war is finished. Very powerful book, which lingers in your mind long after reading and makes you wonder if war really is as necessary as it's said to be. 4 stars.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww-i
An extraordinary classic that I found hidden away on our bookshelves. Written by a survivor of World War One, who served in the trenches. Follows the "hearts and minds" of 113 men who made up his infantry company. These were men from all over the US, who were mixing together, most of them never having left the comfort (or lack thereof) of their hometown or state, to fight a brutal war. Fascinating reading.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the most authentic perspectives of war and the lives of those who live it. Fictional adventures and horrors told through members of Company K soberly reminds us that each of these stories came from a place few would ever be willing to go and that all have more than a few dark grains of truth.
Singleton Makin
amazing, simple character sketches, i think this book should be made mandatory for high school students to read.

i will buy this book and read and study it, and make or remake a film about this book as it has alot of power.

i think william march is a very under promoted writer.

the bad seed was a powerful film from his book, but this one i think is even more powerful and timeless.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
World War I, most interesting war, very melancholic and cruel book, told many stories of many different men in WWI, left me feeling a bit empty, but totally worth reading. I've been always curious about what war does to people, and WWI especially being the first-of-its-kind, the shell-shocked people who came back alive from the war were not sane at all, who would be?
Nicholas Schuler
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Well, an interesting read for sure. I did enjoy the vignette format, especially the brevity of each. Most stories revolve around privates, so it certainly does have the feeling of "why are we here". I don't know if the inclusion of higher-ups would give the book a less anti-war feeling, but I don't think it was a coincidence.
Taneli Repo
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel about WW1. It’s a collection of interconnected short stories about the men of an American company in the French front. Most stories are only 2 to 3 pages long. Very realistic, very brutal, somewhat cynical and very anti-war. I liked this book a lot.
John Cates
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Strong anti war theme - which also deals with the issues of the veterans lives after the end of the war Coming up on the 100th anniversary of WW 1, a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same!
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William March (born William Edward Campbell) was an American author and a highly decorated US Marine. The author of six novels and four short-story collections, March was a critical success and heralded as "the unrecognized genius of our time", without attaining popular appeal until after his death. His novels intertwine his own personal torment with the conflicts spawned by unresolved class, fami ...more

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