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Under Fire: the story of a squad

Henri Barbusse

Book Overview: 

An English translation of the French World War I novel "Le Feu", written by a French soldier and dedicated to "the memory of the comrades who fell by my side at Crony and on Hill 119." Barbusse was invalided out of the army after 17 months in 1915, and given a clerical job, during which time he penned this work. He was greatly influenced by the Russian Revolution and joined the communist party.

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Book Excerpt: 
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"With a bit of a rub-down," says I, "that will be perfect."

"Eh, oui, maman, a flick with a brush'll do us instead of tablecloth."

The woman hardly knows what to say; she watches us spitefully: "There's only two stools, and how many are there of you?"

"About a dozen."

"A dozen. Jesus Maria!"

"What does it matter? That'll be all right, seeing there's a plank here—and that's a bench ready-made, eh, Lamuse?"

"Course," says Lamuse.

"I want that plank," says the woman. "Some soldiers that were here before you have tried already to take it away."

"But us, we're not thieves," suggests Lamuse gently, so as not to irritate the creature that has our comfort at her disposal.

"I don't say you are, but soldiers, vous savez, they smash everything up. Oh, the misery of this war!"

"Well then, how much'll it be, to hire the table, and to he. . . Read More

Community Reviews

”Suddenly a fearful explosion falls on us. I tremble to my skull; a metallic reverberation fills my head; a scorching and suffocating smell of sulphur pierces my nostrils. The earth has opened in front of me. I feel myself lifted and hurled aside—doubled up, choked, and half blinded by this lightnin

In Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, the central character, having been wounded on the Italian Front, escapes from the army and takes refuge in a hotel in the Alps. While there he meets an old acquaintance who interrogates him on the subject of war literature:

‘What have you been reading?’
‘Nothing,’ I

Introduction: Henri Barbusse and the Birth of the Moral Witness, by Jay Winter
Translator's Note

--Under Fire

Life in the trenches for a French battalion during WW1. A harrowing portrait of those who fell and a vivid and moving look at the conditions during those years. Not a plot driven novel more a series of occurrences and memories by the narrator of the story. Nothing romanticised about the times depict

A bit disappointed with this to be honest. Reminiscent of classics such as Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms? Personally, I just didn't see it. I was expecting one of those great war novels that you can't stop thinking about, with scene after scene playing over and over in one's head. That's not to say

Henri Barbusse's Under Fire is the grand-daddy of all realistic books on infantry warfare. Although, in the last chapter, there is an attempt to step back and meditate on the folly of war, the book is a baleful series of vignettes involving mud. seemingly endless rain, and twisted bodies of fallen s

I cannot get my hands on enough material from the Inter-War Period. I admit that I have this problem. I love poilus.

This book has an interesting history of being dragged from fiction to non-fiction and back again. It was originally published in serial form in 1916, making it one of the only works AB

Make no mistake, in the event of war I would be a deserter. Although logically speaking you can’t desert something that you refuse to participate in; you have to engage, in even the most basic, superficial fashion before you can disengage. Whenever I attempt to explain my pacifism, and my attitude t

This book is an essential, but too often ignored, read for anyone interested in World War I, the literature of that period, or war lit in general. As a piece of literature it was highly significant. Published in 1916, it was one of the first works to openly criticise the war and was a major influenc

This is an important book. It is quite short, at just under 300 pages, comprising a series of linked short stories about life in the French trenches during World War One.

I have not been a soldier but this book rings true to me in depicting the life of the "poilu" (literally "hairy one" - the French

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