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Diary of a Dead Officer (Hardback)

Being the Posthumous Papers of Arthur Graeme West

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWI WWI > By Year > 1915 WWI > By Year > 1916 WWI > By Year > 1917

By Arthur Graeme West
Greenhill Books
Pages: 176
ISBN: 9781853677298
Published: 15th April 2007
Last Released: 14th September 2008



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• Exceptional diary of a WWI officer, war poet and pacifist • Evokes the cruelty and waste of war with frankness and honesty • Sets his growing disillusionment against vivid scenes of fighting The Diary of a Dead Officer brings together the private papers of Arthur Graeme West. First published posthumously in 1917, they present a scathing picture of army life, and West's poems, which make up the fifth section of the book, serve as a powerful protest against the futility of war. Born in September 1891, West was a quiet, effacing and unathletic youth with a passion for literature, who went on to become a keen Oxford scholar. When war broke out in 1914, it left him for some time untouched. However in January 1915, in a rush of enthusiasm, he enlisted as a private in the Schools Battalion. From that time, until his death in April 1917, his life was a succession of training in England and trenches in France, with short intervals of leave. West joined from a feeling of duty and patriotism, but the war was to have a profound effect on him. He developed an intense abhorrence of army life and began to question the very core of his beliefs - in religion, patriotism and the reason for war. This growing disillusionment found expression in two particularly powerful war poems, God, How I Hate You and Night Patrol, which stand deservedly alongside those of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. In August 1916 he became a second lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Shortly after, he wrote to his new battalion threatening to desert the army - but he could not bring himself to post the letter. Less than a year later, on 3 April 1917, he was shot dead by a sniper's bullet near Bapaume. Written with complete frankness and sincerity The Diary gives voice to West's struggle to come to terms with the realities of war and is a poignant tribute to a lost generation of soldiers. This edition contains an Introduction by Nigel Jones, author of Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth and The War Walk.

Overall, what a tribute this book is to those who served during the Great War, and their ever-lasting memory. A snapshot of a man's experience. An important piece of Great War writing of which we, and future generations, can be thankful for.

Jon Sandison
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