From Over the Top, a genuinely remarkable first-hand view of the trenches in World War I

I don’t know that “enjoying” is the right word to use when reading this book. But it is a remarkable book, and a remarkable incarnation of the psychology of men in war, each coping with the unspeakable in his own way. Here’s one passage (among many) that particularly struck me.

Near our gun, right across the parapet, could be seen the body of a German lieutenant, the head and arms of which were hanging into our trench. [One of the author’s fellow-soldiers] used to sit and carry on a one-sided conversation with this officer, used to argue and point out why Germany was in the wrong. During all of this monologue, I never heard him say anything out of the way, anything that would have hurt the officer’s feelings had he been alive. He was square all right, wouldn’t even take advantage of a dead man in an argument. — Over the Top, chapter XXI.


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