The terrors of a young soldier come to life in shocking, almost hallucinatory detail in a powerful first novel that follows in the footsteps of The Red Badge of Courage and Farewell to Arms."The boy they called Heck arrived at Omaha Beach in August 1944. Soon he would be sent to the front...." George Tilson, an 18-year-old Iowa farm boy, is nicknamed Heck because he won't curse. Other than that, he's a typical soldier, willing to do his duty without much fuss or musing about grand goals.
During his first horrific exposure to combat, Heck discovers a dark truth about himself: He is a coward. Shamed by his fear and tortured by the never-ending physical dangers around him, he struggles to survive, to live up to the ideal of the American fighting man, and to make sense of his feelings for a young French refugee. As the stark reality of combat and the knowledge that he could cease to exist at any moment presses in on him, he makes a series of choices that would be rational in every human situation except war.
Writing with remorseless clarity in a starkly minimalist style, Arvin draws you into the unimaginable fear, violence, and chaos of the war zone, and creates one of the most disturbing and unforgettable accounts of a soldier's life ever written.
"Arvin's first novel is an elegant, understated testament to the stoicism, accidental cowardice, and occasional heroics of men under fire." (Publishers Weekly)
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