LoveReading View on The General

Forester is now best known for his Hornblower series but this gem is a vivid and visceral depiction of the First World War. Born in 1899 Forester tried to enlist but failed his medical so never saw the horrors of the trenches first hand but having lived through the era was perfectly placed to dissect it. Written in 1936 it follows the career of a very ordinary officer as he rises through the ranks and comes up against the now mythologised horrors of ‘modern’ trench warfare with a Victorian mindset that saw so many soldiers slaughtered. Fascinating and powerful.

Sarah Broadhurst

The General Synopsis

A superb yet neglected novel, 'The General' is the most vivid, moving - and devastating - word-portrait of a World War One British commander ever written, here re-introduced by Max Hastings. Best known for his Hornblower novels, C.S. Forester's 1936 masterpiece follows Herbert Curzon, who fumbled a fortuitous early step on the path to glory in the Boer War. 1914 finds him an honourable, decent, brave and wholly unimaginative colonel. Survival through the early slaughters in which so many fellow-officers perished then brings him rapid promotion. By 1916, he commands 100,000 British soldiers, whom he leads through the horrors of the Somme and Passchendaele. Wonderfully human, this is the story of a man of his time who is anything but wicked, yet presides over appalling sacrifice and tragedy. In his awkwardness and his marriage to a Duke's unlovely, unhappy daughter, Curzon embodies Forester's full powers as a story-teller. Rendered with exquisite compassion are Curzon's patriotism, diligence, sense of duty and refusal to yield to difficulties. But also powerfully damned is the same spirit which caused a hundred real-life British generals to serve as high priests at the bloodiest human sacrifice in the nation's history. A masterful and insightful study about the character of 1914-18's military commanders, 'The General' confirms Forester's rightful place as one of the finest novelists of his generation.

The General Press Reviews

'A superb novel. It blends Forester's preference for military subjects and solid unreflective characters, his irony, his grasp of history and his gift for lean, hypnotic narrative'
New York Times

'Confirms Forester's rightful place as one of the finest novelists of his generation'
Max Hastings

'The most penetrating and subtle study of a Regular army officer that I have ever read'
Observer

'A portrait for all time of an individual in his period'
H.G. Wells

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780007580071
Publication date: 26/02/2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780007580057
Publication date: 22/05/2014
Publisher: William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780007580071
Publication date: 26th February 2015
Author: C. S. Forester, Sir Max Hastings
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction,
Categories: First World War fiction, Classic fiction (pre c 1945),

About C. S. Forester, Sir Max Hastings

C. S. Forester was born in Cairo in 1899. After studying medicine, he rose to fame with tales of naval warfare. On the outbreak of World War Two he worked for the British Ministry of Information in America writing propaganda. His most notable works were the twelve Horatio Hornblower books, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic era, and 'The African Queen'. His novels 'A Ship of the Line' and 'Flying Colours' were jointly awarded the 1938 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. He died in 1966.   Max Hastings is the author of several books, many about warfare. The most ...

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