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Friday, November 7, 2014

"The Great War and Modern Memory" by Paul Fussell. A Short Review

The Great War and Modern MemoryThe Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fussell's book is not what at first one might expect or even desire. Though it is about "The Great War" (World War One), it is not a history, but something totally other; "After all, I was writing not a history, only an elegiac commentary" (365).

Nevertheless the work is exceptional. By walking through the literary world that swirled around the Great War - from before, during and since - Fussell has cleared away some of the mud and grime and exposed a portion of the raw soul of the trench soldiers.Yet the work is a one-ff autobiography, almost a cathartic exercise for the author as he tried hard to fathom his own war experience in World War Two.

"The Great War and Modern Memory" is a work that adds flesh and sinews to the skeletal labors of history-reciting books. As we are closing out the Centenary of the First World War, I would encourage you to read some of the important "Histories," but make sure you pick up this book to help humanize the abstract and factual retellings.


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