Generals Die in Bed: A Story from the Trenches

Front Cover
Annick Press, 2002 - Juvenile Fiction - 175 pages

Generals die in bed, while soldiers die in the trenches, horrifically, unimaginably, infested with lice and surrounded by rats fattened on corpses. There are no rules, no expectations in war. And there is certainly no glamour. Instead, the men inhabit a senseless world, trusting only the instinct to stay alive.

Based on his own experiences in the First World War, Charles Yale Harrison writes a stark and poignant story from the point of view of a young man sent to fight on the Western Front. Beginning in Montreal, the scene soon shifts from the cheering crowds, streamers, and music of the farewell parade to the stench of the trenches, where the soldiers meticulously divide up the stale, gray "war" bread and rationed sugar for their weak tea.

In stark, graphic detail, Harrison writes of the soldiers' fear as the crumbling dirt walls of the palisade tumble down upon them during a shell attack. He recounts the horror of face-to-face combat, where the enemy is revealed to be a smooth-skinned lad, no different from the boy down the street. He shows compassion for both the killer and the killed, each innocent, in a situation without choice.

In raw, powerful prose, the insanity of war is shown clearly as Harrison questions the meaning of heroism, of truth, and of good and evil.

The First World War may seem distant and irrelevant to many young people today, but it is a timeless and important lesson. Seen through the eyes of the adolescent narrator, the experience of trench warfare takes on renewed vibrancy as readers identify with the plight of the youthful soldiers. Harrison's vivid account is a valuable resource for all teachers and students of history and of the human condition.

An introduction places Generals Die In Bed in its proper literary context, beside All Quiet on the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms. Harrison's concise, blunt writing style is an effective means of conveying the reality of war and an example to students of literature. Originally published in 1930, this book was lauded as "the best of the war books" by the New York Evening Standard.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mbmackay - LibraryThing

A short memoir of a Canadian soldier in the trenches of World War 1. Full of the horror and futility of old style fighting with the carnage of new style weapons. No wonder they called WW1 the war to end all wars. Well, they did for 20 years or so, anyway. Read Dec 2016 Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - charlie68 - LibraryThing

A gritty first hand account of life on the Western front in the trenches. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
6
Recruits
13
In the Trenches
19
Out on Rest
31
Back to the Round
41
On Rest Again
49
Bombardment
63
Bethune
91
London
103
Over the Top
117
An Interlude
135
Arras
139
Vengeance
157
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Charles Yale Harrison was born in 1898 in Philadelphia. He left school in grade four, and at the age of 16 began writing for the Montreal Star. Before long, he joined the Royal Montreal Regiment and fought as a machine-gunner in France and Belgium. He was wounded at Amiens in 1918 and returned to Montreal. Harrison worked as a theater manager and reporter before moving to New York City, where he earned his living as a public relations consultant, radio commentator, and writer.

Bibliographic information