This is the story of soldiers of the Fifth Battalion, the Wessex Regiment in the run up to and after D-Day. Although fictional, it comes directly out of the author's own experience, and is acclaimed as one of the most accurate and unsentimental portrayals of the ordinary soldier's life anywhere in fiction. The prose is spare and crisp, the narrative voice at times cynical but alive to the humour and humanity of soldiers at war as well as the conflict's ruthlessness and inhuman momentum.
Alexander Baron grew up in London's East End. The son of a Jewish immigrant, he became involved in left-wing politics during the 1930s and was active in opposing the Fascism rife in the East End at the time. He joined the army in 1940, and it was his experiences in the Second World War that gave him the material for his first novel, From the City, From the Plough. Other novels explore London life and historical themes, and he also wrote Hollywood screenplays and BBC television dramas and adaptations. Carl Foreman's classic war film The Victors (1963) was based on Baron's The Human Kind. He died in 1999.
'the only war book that has conveyed any sense of reality to me'
'a small masterpiece'
'robust and honest without being sensational, warm-hearted without being sentimental, stimulating without being slick'
'Every scene is alive with humour and pity, with a deep controlled fury, with the stuff of life itself...every word in this tough, taut, yet profoundly expressive writing has a job to do, and does it...This book left me mentally numb for a week...Get this book and read it...insist on having it...it is magnificent'
'A war book that is the real thing'
'A fine and moving book'
New York Times
'Conveys, unabated, a sense of quiet reality'
'Very quiet, very precise, its intense emotion keyed low...admirable because, among other reasons, it never seems to have eloquence in mind'
New York Herald Tribune
'Outstanding. Few other novels can have portrayed the ordinary soldier so imaginatively yet realistically'
Scotsman 'You are bored with war? You will not be bored with Mr Baron...drawn with a hard clarity that is brilliant...absolutely right'
'Compelling and authentic'
'Will stand with the best of English war novels'
New English Review
Paperback 224pp, ISBN 978-0-948238-44-4; £9.99