"Goodbye to All That" - Robert Graves

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Sat Nov 21, 2009 10:11 pm Post

The writer's autobiography to the age of 33. He went through the first world war, and survived, in his late teens and early 20s. Not great writing -- he did much better later, I think, but fascinating stuff reflecting life at that time for a boy from a privileged family in England. Some of it is hilarious; some is incredible. His descriptions of life at the front lines during WW I ought to be required reading for anyone who is a proponent of war.

One really interesting aspect he highlights is how like a civil war WW I was. He had German uncles, aunts and cousins himself, and observes at one point how a cousin he was close to was killed during the war by a friend of his in aerial combat. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that WW I was actually the last of the Feudal wars and when you read this book, you can really see that. The upper class officers, often as brilliant as batshit, driving themselves and their troops to their deaths in stupid, disorganized battles. Amazing.

It starts of lightheartedly, but it is no laugh in the end. It also trails to a close rather anticlimactically. But worth the read for the social history both explicit and implicit.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard
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The Worsley Press

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