If you were born in a country or at a time not only when nobody comes to kill your wife and your children, but also nobody comes to ask you to kill the wives and children of others, then render thanks to God and go in peace But always keep this thought in mind you might be luckier than I, but you re not a better person Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones This is war This is not honor This is not glory This is not right This is not just This is not a game played with lives and loves anIf you were born in a country or at a time not only when nobody comes to kill your wife and your children, but also nobody comes to ask you to kill the wives and children of others, then render thanks to God and go in peace But always keep this thought in mind you might be luckier than I, but you re not a better person Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones This is war This is not honor This is not glory This is not right This is not just This is not a game played with lives and loves and delineations of mind and body, a board set with pieces played on the country level for some concept of stability that takes very little to destabilize This is war.This is an experiment on a grand scale, a love fest for theacademically inclined, interesting material in the battered bodies and broken souls spit up out of a gigantic machine that has no rhyme or reason This is the result of masculinity bred on stories of adventure and physical expertise, on shutting up and slimming down the emotions into unfeeling heroics and righteous fury, on boyhood dreams of being brave , let loose in comradeship in the face of corpses spit up in your face and death walking the grounds and laughing at your pitiful attempts to cope and spurring you on to love, but not too much This is the immovable object meeting the oh so movable minds to the point of triumphing over matter, legs that refuse to move, tongues that refuse to speak, screams and cries and shrieks bleeding out of consciences that cannot reason out why and refuse to consider anything but the rational explanation.Tell me, what is rationality What is sanity What is the standard of normality you will grade these atrocities on with so much undeniable proof shambling towards you on sewn up sleeves, crawling towards you with so many stories to tell, if they can bear to speak them If you can bear to listen If you are capable of sticking to the lines and the rules set down by those before you, no matter how much they stretch and bleed and trap you in nightmares that have no single trauma to explain them As if humanity can only be broken by a singularity of a specific magnitude of horror, calibrated by those who know nothing of it Rationality is taking in these fractured relics, these twisted meshes of screams and bones, these tortured playthings of those who have been permitted to control countries, and fixing them Focusing on the physical, and belittling the mental Acknowledging the atrocious hypocrisy of the system, and sending those who have suffered the worst of it right back into its jaws Seeing the similarities between gradations of neuroses on the battlefield and hysterics during peacetime, and doing nothing Playing god because god help us there is no other recourse left to take that will end in maintenance of our own rationality Let us have those who make the decisions be the ones who must watch those who die Let us have those who send them out be the ones who must put them back together Let us have those who love war be the ones to come to grips with the futility of rational thought Let us have those who believe that violence in the name of one s country and conceptions of masculinity is just be the ones who must cope when all the rules are shredded by the reality and life is a trap between barbed wire and the endless sea Let us have those who want it, have it Have all of it Every last and horrific part.In today s world, the leading cause of death in active duty U.S military personnel is suicide We haven t learned much since in the past century, despite those who have seen the terror before them and the terror behind and have as a last ditch effort left us writing, the truth of the matter When will we look at these accounts and start to think Nothing can justify this, he d thought Nothing nothing nothing Who knows When I m asleep, dreaming and drowsed and warm,They come, the homeless ones, the noiseless dead.While the dim charging breakers of the stormRumble and drone and bellow overhead,Out of the gloom they gather about my bead.They whisper to my heart their thoughts are mine Why are you here with all your watches ended From Ypres to Frise we sought you in the line In bitter safety I awake, unfriended And while the dawn begins with slashing rainI think of the Battalion in the mud When are you going back to them again Are they not still your brothers through our blood Siegfried Sassoon, Sick Leave It has beenthan four years since I read this novel Thus, I am now just contributing impressions and integrating some background on the historical characters brought to life in the book For a fresh and rich thematic response to the book, I would I recommend highly the reviews by Steve Sckenda and James Henderson I appreciated the in depth character study of William Rivers, the psychologist treating shell shock victims at Craiglockhart War Hospital His empathy for those broken men and t It has beenthan four years since I read this novel Thus, I am now just contributing impressions and integrating some background on the historical characters brought to life in the book For a fresh and rich thematic response to the book, I would I recommend highly the reviews by Steve Sckenda and James Henderson I appreciated the in depth character study of William Rivers, the psychologist treating shell shock victims at Craiglockhart War Hospital His empathy for those broken men and the efforts he took to help them regenerate was remarkable The book included some on how his experience with field ethnology among the Melanesians made him sensitive to mythic and cultural themes in his patients disorders The key drama in the book concerned the moral dilemmas he faced due to success in his treatments leading to his patients being shipped back to the front Such was the case of two of his famous cases he treated, that of poet soldiers Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen In the case of the former, he was not in treatment for shell shock but under medical review after a protest statement he published in the newspaper while home on leave in 1917 Finished with the War A Soldier s DeclarationI am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers I believe that this war upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this was should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation His friend Robert Graves had pulled strings of influence so he would get a medical review rather than a court martial Barker does well in bringing to life a portrait of Rivers friendship with Sassoon, as well as the friendship Sassoon forged with Owen To some extent we get a believable vision of critical encouragement that Sassoon provided to Owen over his writing A reader s dream of insight on their poetic vision is, as to be expected, unfulfilled The context of Sassoon s case was brought out in Hochschild s book To End All Wars Loyalty and Rebellion Anti war activists Bertrand Russell helped him draft his statement and Sylvia Pankhurst published it in her newsletter Sassoon s expectation was that a public court marshal would give him a platform for his message, while Russell and Pankhurst hoped that would trigger a movement of soldiers to follow the Bolshevik s lead of laying down their weapons Instead, the War Office a public statement proclaimed, Sassoon has been reported by the medical board as not being responsible for his action, as he was suffering from a nervous breakdown Eventually, Sassoon chose to return to fighting at the front, noting in his diary that I am only here to look after some men Hochschild summarizesIt was a haunting reminder of the fierce power of group loyalty over that of political conviction and all theso because it came from someone who had not in the slightest changed, nor ever in his life would change, his belief that his country s supposed war aims were fraudulentThe fate of Owen is too tragic for words Hochschild summarizes At only 25, Wilfred Owen had never published a book but had his notebooks the finest body of poetry about the experience of war written in the twentieth century At noon on November 11, an hour into the celebration of the peace accord , Owen s mother received the black bordered War Office telegram telling her that, a week earlier, her son had been killed in action.The background story of W.H.R Rivers is outlined in a great article in Wikipedia He was quite innovative in his approaches for treating what is now called PTSD Barker captures how he used the talking cure to encourage his patients to relive and react to their experiences Yet, he was no Freudian Instead of seeing shell shock as relating to psychic neuroses and repressed sexual urges, he saw their trouble as simply related to the fear and trauma of their war experiencesA quote from a professional source on his accomplishments has it that Rivers, by pursuing a course of humane treatment, had established two principles that would be embraced by American military psychiatrists in the next war He had demonstrated, first, that men of unquestioned bravery could succumb to overwhelming fear and, second, that the most effective motivation to overcome that fear was something stronger than patriotism, abstract principles, or hatred of the enemy It was the love of soldiers for one another The article suggests that even though both Rivers and Sassoon were gay, the propriety at the time makes it plausible that the subject would come up little in their sessions, which in fact is how Barker portrayed the issue in the book The likelihood that Sassoon might have loved Rivers is also covered in the Wikipedia article Barker only goes so far as to impute the basic transference effect of Rivers being seen as a father figure He must have been a great therapist A friend and colleague summarized the strengths in his character Rivers was intolerant and sympathetic He was once compared to Moses laying down the law The comparison was an apt one, and one side of the truth The other side of him was his sympathy It was a sort of power of getting into another man s life and treating it as if it were his own And yet all the time he made you feel that your life was your own to guide, and above everything that you could if you cared make something important out of it.It turns out that the fictional Billy Prior isof a main character in each of the three booksthan Sassoon He is a complex, violent, and manipulative character who also had a playful and humane side Here in Regeneration we get a rendering of Rivers working with him, revealing a lot about issues of class in the warI suppose most of them turn you into Daddy, don t they Well, I m a bit too old to be sitting on Daddy s knee Kicking him on the shins every time you meet him isn t generally consideredmature I see A negative transference Is that what you think we ve got I hope not Rivers couldn t altogether conceal his surprise Where did you learn that term I can read You have to win, don t you Prior stared intently at him You know, you do a wonderful imitation of a stuffed shirt And you re not like that at all, really, are you How did you fit in Prior s face shut tight You mean, did I encounter any snobbery Yes Notthan I have here Their eyes locked Rivers said, But you did encounter it Yes It s made perfectly clear when you arrive that some people arewelcome than others It helps if you have been to the right school It helps if you hunt, it helps if your shirts are the right colour Which is a deep shade of khaki, by the way Do you know, for the first time I realized that somewhere in the back of their tiny tiny minds they really do believe the whole thing s going to end in one big glorious cavalry charge Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of death, Into the mouth of hell And all That Rubbish Rivers noticed that Prior s face lit up as he quoted the poem Is it rubbish Yes Oh, all right, I was in love with it once Shall I tell you something about that charge Just as it was about to start an officer saw three men smoking He thought that was a bit too casual so he confiscated their sabres and sent them into the charge unarmed Two of them were killed The one who survived was flogged the next day Thus, you can see the book s content does not draw the reader directly into the drama and horrors of the war It is asubtle, indirect take on the impact of war It explores well the struggle of individuals messed up over the experiences to recover and the unpleasant reality of the medical professionals tasked with facilitating their transition back into harm s way Our twisted conceptions of courage and masculinity are elucidated with sensitivity W.H.R Rivers Lt Siegfried Sassoon Craiglockhart War Hospital, in Derby, U.K. The first volume in Pat Barker s First World War trilogy and what an excellent start and a brilliant weaving of fact and fiction I already knew about Craiglockhart and the hospital for those with shellshock and breakdown with the pioneering psychologist Rivers Siegfried Sassoon s stay there is well documented in Max Egremont s excellent biography He is a central part of this novel and his interactions with Rivers and Wilfred Owen whom he encouraged to write poetry Robert Graves also pop The first volume in Pat Barker s First World War trilogy and what an excellent start and a brilliant weaving of fact and fiction I already knew about Craiglockhart and the hospital for those with shellshock and breakdown with the pioneering psychologist Rivers Siegfried Sassoon s stay there is well documented in Max Egremont s excellent biography He is a central part of this novel and his interactions with Rivers and Wilfred Owen whom he encouraged to write poetry Robert Graves also pops up he tried to shield Sassoon from the results of his declaration Sassoon was highly decorated he had a Military cross , but he was disillusioned with the war and sent a declaration to The Times I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realize It is worth quoting in full and Barker starts the book with it Sassoon s friend Graves realized that Sassoon was heading for a court martial and applied to the medical board Sassoon had been wounded to persuade them that Sassoon was suffering from shellshock Barker tells Sassoon s story his homosexuality is hinted at and his talks with Rivers are well imagined Owen and Graves are minor characters but add a great deal to the novel As do the fictional characters who are brilliantly drawn, especially Prior.Barker makes some interesting points about what we now call PTSD Women had long been pigeonholed as being prone to hysteria in its many forms and the men who suffered from the same type of ailment were handled very differently and quietly The First World War with its horrors and sheer brutality produced men suffering from PTSD and it was the sheer numbers that meant the issue could not be ignored Barker contrasts the humane and modern approach favoured by Rivers with otherbrutal approaches Barker presents many of the ideas in flux at the time and what is most prescient is the very modernity and relevance to the present conflicts we have been contending with in our generation.There is a myth that the Great War changed everything and people woke up to the nature of war we know it isn t so unfortunately Barker manages to make it quite difficult to disentangle the strands of fact and fiction she sets up but she does a very good job of conveying the horrors of war in a subtle way this is not boring history or historical fiction it is a mirror for humanity to look into and see the obscenity of war I am not giving this book one star because I find the subject matter troubling or because I m not used to required reading.I am giving this book one star because it is overrated, self serving junk Pat Barker has plucked from history characters that were perfectly capable of speaking for themselves we know this because most of them were writers and forced into them her own flat, inexperienced voice It seems as though, for many people, the book s politics make up for its nonexistent plot, endl I am not giving this book one star because I find the subject matter troubling or because I m not used to required reading.I am giving this book one star because it is overrated, self serving junk Pat Barker has plucked from history characters that were perfectly capable of speaking for themselves we know this because most of them were writers and forced into them her own flat, inexperienced voice It seems as though, for many people, the book s politics make up for its nonexistent plot, endless pages of armchair psychology, and woefully thin characters.For me, it doesn t Regeneration fails on every level It fails to connect the reader with the horrors of war It fails to present convincing portraits of the historic figures it borrows It fails to provide insight into the psychology of returning soldiers It fails to present any sort of meaningful, cogent philosophical statement aside from War Sucks.As a matter of fact, the only thing it has succeeded at is convincing me that the judges for the Booker Prize select its winners by lottery, without actually having readthan a few paragraphs of each title.The book begins promisingly enough, with a letter written by Siegfried Sassoon denouncing the war, the introduction of Dr Rivers, and Siegfried s arrival at the hospital The beginning has you believe, for a few brief pages, that the book will be a deep, carefully executed statement about protest during war time and the underhanded ways in which such protest was silenced However, the novel quickly dissolves into a turgid pseudo psychological mess.Pat Barker is not a psychologist She has no experience working with veterans and knows absolutely nothing about post war psychology beyond what she s culled from other books on the subject Consequently, her characters are sketches their afflictions are heavily repeated generalizations The reader is presented with a roll call of things that are bad that could happen to soldiers without being given the opportunity to connect or sympathize with any of the patients This approach has an almost desensitizing effect, which, I believe, is the exact opposite of what Barker attempted to accomplish with this novel Regeneration is entirely strung together on these flat psychological portraits and fleeting hints of poetically described gore The writing is incredibly obvious throughout If the reader thinks for a moment that a character s actions or thoughts might be a bit confusing or complex, he or she need not worry Barker spells everything out in great detail Multiple times This over explanatory writing style can t even be called a lack of subtlety it so closely resembles being repeatedly knocked over the head by a bag full of trite, Freudian pop psychology In fact, just in case the overall theme of the book would have been a mystery to the reader if it d just contained the original, historical characters, Barker has invented a character whose sheer purpose is to trumpet her voice throughout the novel Billy Prior s only purpose is to serve as a foil to the two, supposed main characters of the novel Until he becomes the absolute focus of the entire book Sassoon s protest is, for all intents and purposes, completely forgotten forthan half the book when the focus shifts to Prior s making witty statements about the war and observations about psychology, which the other main character, Dr Rivers, is always incredibly impressed by Often for pages.I find it ironic that Siegfried Sassoon the, again, supposed protagonist despises civilians because of their ignorance and because of the callous way that they allow the war to continue Pat Barker is ultimately as ignorant as any civilian in this book and proves this with her bludgeon like attempts at characterization.The love interest for Billy Prior, Sarah, seemslike Barker s slim justification for writing the novel than an actual character A bad attempt at connecting the civilian experience with the overseas one There is a particularly annoying sequence where this character is lost in a hospital, runs into amputees, and finds the whole mess senseless, thereby coming to the same philosophical conclusion about the war as Prior, etc As though getting lost in a hospital is equivalent to getting lost in the trenches As though Barker s researching Sassoon s war experience is equivalent to Sassoon s having lived through it.This book is, ultimately, a sorry excuse for literature People would be much better served reading the actual poetry of Siegfried Sassoon than reading Barker s shoddy attempt at explaining his psyche My experience with this World War I trilogy is bumpy, to say the least.Starting by reading The Ghost Road without knowing it was the last in the series, I was not impressed I have difficulties with historical fiction which mixes fictional characters with historical persons in a speculative interpretation of history But considering the unfairness of judging a series after reading only the conclusion, I now embarked on the first one Thus I find myself doing what Carol Ann Duffy did with the mos My experience with this World War I trilogy is bumpy, to say the least.Starting by reading The Ghost Road without knowing it was the last in the series, I was not impressed I have difficulties with historical fiction which mixes fictional characters with historical persons in a speculative interpretation of history But considering the unfairness of judging a series after reading only the conclusion, I now embarked on the first one Thus I find myself doing what Carol Ann Duffy did with the most famous Wilfred Owen poem spinning history backwards.The Last Post, by Carol Ann Duffy In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,He plunges at me, guttering, choking droning.If poetry could tell it backwards, true, beginthat moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mudbut you get up amazed, watch bled bad bloodrun upwards from the slime into its wounds see lines and lines of British boys rewindback to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothersnot entering the story nowto die and die and dieDulce No Decorum No Pro patria moriYou walk away.You walk away drop your gun fixed bayonet like all your mates do too Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Bert and light a cigarette.There s coffee in the square,warm French breadand all those thousands deadare shaking dried mud from their hairand queuing up for home Freshly alive,a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, releasedfrom History the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.You lean against a wall,your several million lives still possibleand crammed with love, work, children talent, English beer, good food.You see the poet tuck away his pocket book and smile.If poetry could truly write it backwards,then it would The problem is that it is not possible, really History can t be unwritten, or rewritten And my issue with the third, Booker winning part of the series is accentuated and deepened by reading the first volume I don t like this kind of historical fiction, and my dislike grows deeper with every novel I try I prefer reading the authors who experienced the time themselves, thus giving authentic testimony, OR historians who keep to objective documentation, analysing the primary and secondary sources in their complexity and completeness, rather than through the lens of a biased fictional character, mingling with historical persons A mix of those two approaches is not for me.So that leaves the question open should I skip the middle Having started with the end, then reluctantly moved backwards to the start, is it worthwhile to work my way through the action of the second in order to close the circle Or should I leave it wide open and readSassoon firsthand instead The Poems Of Wilfred Owen, in the forwards direction, that is, I know almost by heart Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge Men marched asleep Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood shod All went lame all blind Drunk with fatigue deaf even to the hoots Of gas shells dropping softly behind Gas GAS Quick, boys An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound ring like a man in fire or lime Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning In all my dreams before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil s sick of sin If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori Rating 5 of fiveThe Publisher Says Regeneration, one in Pat Barker s series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight Yet the novel is muchWritten in sparse prose that is shockingly clear the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing it combines real life characters and e Rating 5 of fiveThe Publisher Says Regeneration, one in Pat Barker s series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight Yet the novel is muchWritten in sparse prose that is shockingly clear the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing it combines real life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book Other books in the series include The Eye in the Door and the Booker Award winner The Ghost Road.My Review The Doubleday UK meme, a book a day for July 2014, is the goad I m using to get through my snit based unwritten reviews Today s prompt is to discuss the Great War novel you loved best.This was hard because there have been several, two in the past year , Great War themed novels that I really love I spent a sleepless night thinking about this I re read portions of both my recent reads that suit the prompt, and as much as I was enwrapt in The Daughters of Mars , feeling the swirl and ebb of tidal feeling, I was utterly immersed in Regeneration , I felt I was there and I was simply, unaccountably, invisible to the characters and so not remarked upon.I know that Ms Barker was born in 1943imagine 1943 Were there people then and so could not have witnessed the events that so utterly traumatized Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and so many thousands of other men, but you couldn t prove it by this Sometimes, in the trenches, you get the sense of something, ancient One trench we held, it had skulls in the side, embedded, like mushrooms It was actually easier to believe they were men from Marlborough s army, than to think they d been alive a year ago It was as if all the other wars had distilled themselves into this war, and that made it something you almost can t challenge It s like a very deep voice, saying Run along, little man, be glad you ve survived.If that doesn t sound exactly like something a survivor would think, I don t know what does And yet she s 25 years younger than Armistice Day Channeling Spirit possession Filing clerk for the Akashic Records Office That last sounds about rightanyway, there we are mise en scene with the survivors, the ones confronting a world that feels empowered to judge them for their responses to stimuli unknown to mere civilians The way I see it, when you put the uniform on, in effect you sign a contract And you don t back out of a contract merely because you ve changed your mind You can still speak up for your principles, you can still argue against the ones you re being made to fight for, but in the end you do the job.Doesn t that sound like someone who hasn t had to do the job issuing a pronunciamento An armchair warrior speaking from the privileged place of one who is defended, not one who defends It was ever thus.What a horror, then, to be trapped between a world that you fought to save, and that world s utter inability and complete unwillingness to learn what you lived This reinforced Rivers s view that it was prolonged strain, immobility and helplessness that did the damage, and not the sudden shocks or bizarre horrors that the patients themselves were inclined to point to as the explanation for their condition That would help to account for the greater prevalence of anxiety neuroses and hysterical disorders in women in peacetime, since their relativelyconfined lives gave them fewer opportunities of reacting to stress in active and constructive ways Any explanation of war neurosis must account for the fact that this apparently intensely masculine life of war and danger and hardship produced in men the same disorders that women suffered from in peace.That kind of knowledge would devastate Society Undermine the Divinely Ordained Rules Heresy It must be the case that these damaged men were weak, weak I say, unmanly and unworthy It cannot be that what they lived through damaged them by its nature, or else codified gender and skin color inequality is Wrong And we all know that it is Right Ugh But blessedly, the Great War began a process of wrenching, painful psychic change that the Ruling Elite has been resisting, beating back, discrediting at every opportunity, and with increasing success, for 95 years It was the Great White God de throned, I suppose Because we did, we quite unselfconsciously assumed we were the measure of all things That was how we approached them And suddenly I saw that we weren t the measure of all things, but that there was no measure.Look at the returned Iraq War and Afghan War veteransdisillusioned, mutilated in body and in soul even when bodies are whole, record numbers of veteran suicides stand to our national, human discredit, exactly as they did then, and all because You know you re walking around with a mask on, and you desperately want to take it off and you can t because everybody else thinks it s your face.If that sentence does not make you weep actual physical tears of helpless sadness and empathetic misery, you are wanting in basic human kindness.In the end, the reason I selected this book as my favorite Great War novel ahead of all others, is this simple distillation of the pointlessness of war in the face of its costs And as soon as you accepted that the man s breakdown was a consequence of his war experience rather than his own innate weakness, then inevitably the war became the issue And the therapy was a test, not only of the genuineness of the individual s symptoms, but also of the validity of the demands the war was making on him Rivers had survived partly by suppressing his awareness of this But then along came Sassoon and made the justifiability of the war a matter for constant, open debate, and that suppression was no longer possible This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License Regeneration, one in Pat Barker s series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight Yet the novel is much Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing it combines real life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book Other books in the series include The Eye in the Door and the Booker Award winner The Ghost Road I have found all of Pat Barker s books that I have read fascinating, and I especially like the Regeneration trilogy Regeneration, The Eye In The Door, The Ghost Road These novels, about the psychological toll that World War I exacted on some of its at least temporary survivors, are wrenching I ve always been fascinated by World War I, especially from the English perspective What a way to start the twentieth century and of course, rather than a war to end wars, it was merely an introducti I have found all of Pat Barker s books that I have read fascinating, and I especially like the Regeneration trilogy Regeneration, The Eye In The Door, The Ghost Road These novels, about the psychological toll that World War I exacted on some of its at least temporary survivors, are wrenching I ve always been fascinated by World War I, especially from the English perspective What a way to start the twentieth century and of course, rather than a war to end wars, it was merely an introduction to the horrors that we encountered as the century wore on.For a heart rending description of the Europe which the first world war put an end to, check out Stefan Zweig s The World of Yesterday, which I would rate as one of the most affecting books I have ever read Previous review Prodigal Summer KingsolverRandom review Cuz The Life and Times of Michael ANext review Resurrection TolstoyPrevious library review WeaveworldNext library review The Eye in the Door I find it a bit difficult to rate this book In terms of subject matter mental illness brought on by the First World War it is one of the most important in history In terms of the way it was written, it s not the best book by any means In terms of character, it s quite interesting but lacking In terms of exploration, it ventures no farther than the shrubbery.The writing was mediocre, in all honesty The flow of paragraphs was often rather disjointed, though one could attribute that to the who I find it a bit difficult to rate this book In terms of subject matter mental illness brought on by the First World War it is one of the most important in history In terms of the way it was written, it s not the best book by any means In terms of character, it s quite interesting but lacking In terms of exploration, it ventures no farther than the shrubbery.The writing was mediocre, in all honesty The flow of paragraphs was often rather disjointed, though one could attribute that to the whole theme of the novel I did enjoy the writing and found it readable, though it did not necessarily draw me in nor did it convey to me the acute and substantial severity of the subject matter It did explore some themes that, even now, people would find difficult to speak about, but often it felt slightly brushed aside in favour of dropping the name of another literary figure.I feel the characters were although for the most part based on real life people rather flat and dull Even those of them who were critically traumatised by their time on the front line, there always seemed something background about them It was interesting to have real life people as characters, though I am always wary about such things Biographies are all very well, but fictionalised accounts of their lives or even small parts of their lives should be tentatively approached I cannot comment on how accurate any portrayals of the WWI poets were, but that matters little since I don t feel like I learnt all that much about them, in any case.The one character whom I found had developed substantially during the novel was Rivers, the psychiatrist treating the mentally war wounded His was a character of depth and layers and that was intriguing, but never fully explored We got inside his mind and sat there rather comfortably, with closed doors all around More of those doors should have been allowed to open.I suppose, the prose reflected the mental state of the characters in some respects I feel likecould have been done in parts, or at least tied off I believe this is a good novel since the subject matter is no easy one to tackle, but it lacks various things that could have made it so muchThe meagre plot between patient Billy and a factory working girl Sarah was a shambles and only seemed to be there for the fact that it was the only thing that resembled a true plot line, but did help in giving an outside the hospital view of the patients, which I think was one of the key elements of the book and was taken straight from various sentiments from WWI poets.It gives a glimpse beyond the poetry, which is probably just as important as the poetry itself, but I would say that biographies would tell a much better story, despite them being true life accounts.Blog Reviews Instagram Twitter Everyone SangEveryone suddenly burst out singing And I was filled with such delightAs prisoned birds must find in freedom,Winging wildly across the whiteOrchards and dark green fields on on and out of sight.Everyone s voice was suddenly lifted And beauty came like the setting sun My heart was shaken with tears and horrorDrifted away O, but EveryoneWas a bird and the song was wordless the singing will never be done.Siegfried SassoonFreedom, winging wildly Young Siegfried must have felt Everyone SangEveryone suddenly burst out singing And I was filled with such delightAs prisoned birds must find in freedom,Winging wildly across the whiteOrchards and dark green fields on on and out of sight.Everyone s voice was suddenly lifted And beauty came like the setting sun My heart was shaken with tears and horrorDrifted away O, but EveryoneWas a bird and the song was wordless the singing will never be done.Siegfried SassoonFreedom, winging wildly Young Siegfried must have felt that freedom From a privileged, wealthy background he was able to go down from Cambridge without a degree and without worry about how to make a living a small private income afforded him the liberty of the English country gentleman, the luxury of spending his days doing exactly what he wanted, which was mostly hunting, playing cricket and writing poetry.The Great War transformed him What was inside him, what lunacy turned him into Mad Jack , suicidal in his bravery, an inspiration to the men he was in charge of, the men who felt confidence coming off him in waves like the smell of sweat How much confidence was needed, how much dizzy freedom did he find to stand up in 1917 and declare, in an act of wilful defiance of military authority I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed He must have assumed that his voice would not remain a solo, that everyone s voice would be suddenly lifted But the singing will never be done.The chorus offered him a stark choice Court Martial or Craiglockhart Pat Barker chooses not to place Sassoon at the centre of her novel, nor indeed anyone with direct experience of war, but the intelligent, analytical, compassionate observer, in the figure of Dr W.H.R Rivers, psychologist and anthropologist at the military psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh Someone we would like to feel we resemble, someone we would like to feel we can trust Slowly, Rivers begins to question what he is doing, the quandary of regenerating these damaged young men merely in order to send them back to feed the unleashed dogs of war A shift is traced through the pages of this novel much has been made of the over strong contrast between the sober, gentle empathy of Rivers and the inhumanity of Yealland, but the shift I saw is not from cruelty to kindness in the treatment of mental patients, that would be too straight a line and probably anachronistic The shifts I see are fuzzier, less straightforward, but seep through the pages in subtly swirling colours Uncomfortable questions are asked how much emotion is a real man allowed to feel Are men allowed to admit to feelings of grief, loss, love for their comrades Does this feminise them What is manly love How much power is a woman allowed, over her body, over her choices, over her desires In the crucible of war, individuals are transformed Gender roles, ideas, societies are transformed There is horror, of course, the horror And perhaps a little singing Just a little, in the end