Brilliant in its stark depiction of trench warfare in World War I, this lost classic was privately printed in a limited edition in 1930. British censors initially suppressed the short novel because of its tough antiwar views and sympathetic portrayals of German soldiers, and even today's readers may be unprepared for its scenes of horrific battlefield carnage and men driven to madness by relentless psychological stress. Providing a new view of an underappreciated Canadian author, the book also stands as a fascinating addition to the comparatively small shelf of literature by writers who fought in the Great War.
James Hanley was a Canadian author best known in the 1930s and 1940s for his many detective novels. His eventful early life included a childhood in Dublin, jumping ship in New Brunswick as a 15-year-old during World War I, enlistment in the Canadian army, and deployment to the European theater. Bruce Meyer is the author of more than 20 books, including The Golden Thread: A Reader's Journey Through the Great Books and seven collections of poetry. He lives in Toronto.
"Hanley is possibly one of the best novelists writing in the English Language today, and should be recognized for his honesty and ability to deal directly with life." “William Faulkner, Times Literary Supplement
"Why are these men in hell? Mr. Hanley leaves us to find the answer. But what force and vitality there are in this presentation of men driven to madness under inconceivable stress of modern war." “Richard Aldington, author, Images of War: A Book of Poems