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The Mountain War (Hardback)

A Doctor's Diary of the Italian Campaign 1914-1918

WWI Military

By Dr Isaak Barasch
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399093101
Published: 30th November 2021

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RRP £20.00

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The diary Dr Isaak Barasch kept while serving in the Austro-Hungarian army on the Italian front during the First World War gives the reader a remarkable insight into the conflict and into the man himself. Few personal accounts of service on the Italian front have been published in English and diaries from the Habsburg side are rarer still, so his writing is exceptional.

He doesn’t record military actions and manoeuvres in detail, but concentrates on his own reflections and feelings as he coped with the sick and wounded on the front line. He is often angry with the army and the war, but never expresses jingoistic hatred of the enemy. His indignation is directed at superiors, at commanders and politicians who know nothing of the terror of the fighting. When reproached for being too sensitive and insufficiently hardened, he noted that his biggest worry was how to remain untouched – how to retain his humanity.

Eventually Barasch’s sensitivity – and his resistance to authority – led to his being placed in a psychiatric hospital, and he died during the influenza pandemic of 1918. But his unique account has been preserved and is now available in English for the first time. It is engrossing reading. It shows one man’s honest, often emotional response to the experience of the war on the Italian front and offers a very rare inside view of life in the Austro-Hungarian army.

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About Dr Isaak Barasch

Dr Isaak Barasch was born into a Jewish family 1885 in Zloczow – now Zolochiv – in the Ukraine, in what was then Galicia, a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He studied to become a doctor in Lwow and Vienna and served with the Austro-Hungarian army on the Italian front from 1916 to 1918. He died of influenza during the 1918 pandemic. His wartime diary, which was preserved by his family, has been translated into English by Michael Wooff, with an introduction by Dr Barasch’s niece Shulamit Kopf.

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