Also published as "Her Privates We".
filled him, he sat up and lit the inevitable cigarette. The formless terrors haunting their sleep took shape for him. His mind reached back into past day, groping among obscure and broken memories, for it seemed to him now that for the greater part of the time he had been stunned and blinded, and that what he had seen, he had seen in sudden, vivid flashes, instantaneously: he felt again the tension of waiting, that became impatience, and then the immense effort to move, and the momentary relief which came with movement, the sense of unreality and dread which descended on one, and some restoration of balance as one saw other men moving forward in a way that seemed commonplace, mechanical, as though at some moment of ordinary routine; the restraint, and the haste that fought against it with every voice in one's being crying out to hurry. Hurry? One cannot hurry, alone, into nowhere, into nothing. Every impulse created immediately its own violent contradiction. The confusion and tumult in his own mind was insepa
Possibly the best book on soldiers of the Great War, written by Manning, an ex infantryman himself. He captures the humdrum, fear, ignorance and sometimes the beauty of conscript soldiering exquisitely.
Originally issued in a censored form (the book cover above) with the visceral language of men in battle completely excised.
His descriptions of the life on and behind the front line have a descriptive power that are second to none. A unique book that captures the time, place and events of the lives of a battalion of conscript English soldiers going about their daily work.
If you have soldiered and fought anywhere, and wished you'd written it down but didn't, this book is for you. If you haven't, download this, and be taken back into smokey dugouts, tiny French estaminets, and listen to soldiers talk. A real time capsule of a book.