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Regeneration (Regeneration, #1)
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1001 book reviews > Regeneration - Pat Barker

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3798 comments Mod
Read 2013: The story is based on real historical facts/persons. The real life encounter of W.H.R. Rivers (anthropologist, psychiatrist) and Siegried Sassoon at Craiglockhart in 1917. When I started to read this book, I assumed Pat Barker was a man because I knew that the trilogy was a war story. I also assumed it was fiction and then discovered that these some of the characters in the story were real persons. Sassoon was a poet and also a brave army officer who came to the conclusion that the war should be ended. I knew about shell shock, now called PTSD and have seen documentaries of WWI victims. I knew about the gas, I had an great uncle who suffered from exposure to gas in WWI. I know quite a bit about psychiatry as it is my field. I found this book to be well written, the protagonist is Rivers and he changes as the story unfolds. I would be able to recommend this book though I am not certain the remaining two books are as good as I have not heard as good reports on those.


message 2: by Diane (last edited Nov 30, 2019 08:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane | 1905 comments Rating: 4+ stars

Given my letdown with Another World, I thought I would give the author another chance and read her highly praised Regeneration. I was not disappointed this time. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. The second book, curiously, is not on the 1001 list, but the third one is.

This is the historical fiction about William Rivers, a real-life psychiatrist treating soldiers suffering from PTSD following WWI. Some of the patients in the story were also famous people who existed in real life, such as author Robert Graves, and poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The book, although about war, is considered to be an anti-war novel. The title word, regeneration, refers to convalescence and healing as well as the nerve regeneration experiments conducted by Rivers.

Overall, a moving and fantastic read. It was a great companion read to another WWI book dealing with PTSD I read this month, The Wars by Timothy Findley.


Amanda Dawn | 892 comments I continue to be impressed with Barker (I’ve read and loved Another World and The Ghost Road Previously). I loved this book and gave it 5 stars. Since I read The Ghost Road first, I knew that Siegfried Sassoon played a larger role in this one, which made me so happy since I’m a huge fan of his work and knew about his conscientious objection/shell shock episode depicted in the book.

Fortunately, my expectations were lived up to, and I loved how the book explored this piece of history and characterized both Rivers and Sassoon. Their conversations about morality and personal responsibility, intrinsic vs instrumental good, sexuality, masculinity, trauma, etc were all very worth reading. Also love Owens’ crush on Sassoon…and I felt sad reading knowing what happens to him though. I also liked Billy Prior and Sarah, although I will admit they weren’t the “bread and butter” of the story for my interests. Additionally, I found Burns’ story very compelling.

I love how this trilogy explores the trauma of war directly without ever giving the war space to present as epic and heroic. As someone who works in a mental health hospital, I also love these book’s exploration of the history of military psychiatry and the deep empathy it shows for the subjects and their trauma.
I agree it’s weird that every book but the middle one are on the list, but given how much I loved the other two, I’m sure I’ll read it eventually. Completely out of order since I’ve read the third first and first second so far lol.


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