May 12, 2015

Company K

by William March

I didn't expect to really like this book, but it grew on me. It's about WWI, a company of men marching through France, little stories from each of them. Some only a couple of paragraphs long, others several pages. Often two paired together showing the same incident from their different viewpoints. The voices are not very distinct, but the individual responses to the horrors and senselessness of war are. Men befriending enemies and killing friends, injuring themselves on purpose to get out of fighting, searching for solace with women along the way, misunderstanding the locals in the countryside, insurgency and bravery and cowardice, pain and suffering and bewilderment. It's gruesome in many parts, in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way. Roughly chronological, although there really is no storyline to follow, just pieces here and there of each man's experience. Eagerness at the beginning when the men are first enlisted and training, the long slog, the growing horrors, the numbness and fear and everything else, what it was like for many of them to come home. Lauded when they didn't deserve or want it, others ignored when they had gone through the worst, the difficulties in making their lives again. Reminded me some of Strange Meeting by Susan Hill.

Rating: 3/5      183 pages, 1933

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