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Articles of War

Articles of War

Written by Nick Arvin

Narrated by J. D. Cullum


Articles of War

Written by Nick Arvin

Narrated by J. D. Cullum

ratings:
3.5/5 (9 ratings)
Length:
5 hours
Released:
Jan 31, 2006
ISBN:
9781598871500
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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 A Farewell to Arms.
Released:
Jan 31, 2006
ISBN:
9781598871500
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Nick Arvin is the award-winning author of the novel Articles of War, named one of the Best Books of the Year by Esquire, and the story collection In the Electric Eden. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he also holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and Stanford, and has worked in both automotive and forensic engineering. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Reviews

What people think about Articles of War

3.6
9 ratings / 9 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    novella length story of soldier ultimately involved in eddie slovik incident-well written
  • (3/5)
    novella length story of soldier ultimately involved in eddie slovik incident-well written
  • (4/5)
    George Tilson leaves his Iowa home for Normandy as an eighteen-year-old recruit in World War II. Shy and unassuming, he keeps to himself and earns the nickname “Heck” because he doesn’t swear. He is muscled from summers of farm labor, and knows how to work long and hard without complaint. But combat is far more brutal than he imagined and fear consumes him.

    This novella packs a big punch. The writing is at once reserved and intimately emotional. The reader witnesses the horrors of war along with Heck, who frequently seems removed from the battles due to his cautious nature. But his fear, terror, and horror are intensely felt, as is his shame at his perceived cowardice. The combat scenes capture perfectly the chaos and confusion of a major battle. The scenes at base camp capture the boredom and uncertainty of “waiting to be called,” and give the reader (and the combatants) a much-needed respite.

    When I finished I was not sure I agreed with Heck’s self-assessment that he is a coward. I recognize that he is frightened to inaction at times, but that seems reasonable to me given the circumstances he finds himself in. I asked my husband (a combat infantry platoon leader in Vietnam) about this. His response is that it’s normal to be scared, but you have to face it. I think there are times when Heck definitely faces his fears and conducts himself well. But there are other incidents when he takes “the coward’s way out,” and those tend to be when he is alone and without someone to witness his cowardice. Internally, however, he is always looking to escape.

    And that is what gives the ending such impact. Without giving anything away, I don’t see how he can escape that final scenario … and I’m not so sure he even wants to.
  • (4/5)
    George "Heck" Tilson turns eighteen years old just in time to do a full turn of duty in WWII. This short novel is not the story of a hero, or even a patriot. It's the story of putting one foot in front of the other when all your instincts are telling to stop and run away. I thought the ending was a bit contrived (Heck's life becomes entwined with Pvt. Eddie Slovak's life), but until then, it was a good read.
  • (4/5)
    Very difficult read.. Realistic descriptions of fighting, survival, courage .. Main character about18, from a farm in Midwest, totally naive ..any mother of sons would find this difficult. However every person that has any influence in sening young men to was should read this..
  • (3/5)
    The book follows Heck (it's his nickname because he doesn't swear), a boy from Iowa sent to fight in World War II. He's a quiet type, so unsurprisingly, the book is also spare. Heck is a hard worker, and doesn't have any problems taking orders, but his first experience in combat leaves him with the knowledge that he's not cut out for casual heroism - or really any sort of heroism.It is an interesting counterpoint to the usual World War II story of young men who consistently did the right thing and found extreme reserves of courage within themselves. There had to be men who found they were paralyzed by their fear, who spent more time trying to figure out how to get out rather than go forward.I wasn't much of a fan of the ending, which I found a little too open-ended for me.
  • (5/5)
    Articles of War reminds me of a rare gem that has been finely and professionally cut and polished. It is a precise and narrow vision of one man's experience in the combat hell that was World War II. Although the protagonist's nickname is Heck, because he refused to use profanity of any kind (a promise to his dead mother), he quickly learned of Hell in the Hurtgen forest and the infamous Battle of the Bulge, enduring the bone-chilling winter cold, the short supply of congealed canned rations, and the caked filth of living in cramped close quarters of underground bunkers, hiding from German snipers and artillery strikes, cowering like burrowing animals, where the only advice he gets from a more seasoned comrade is: "...when you need to move your bowels, when you absolutely can't help yourself, shit in your helmet, maybe a K-ration box. Then throw it out that opening. Do not go outside to shit. Please ... The last replacement I had insisted on going outside and died with his pants around his knees." Other reviewers have commented on parallels to Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, and the similarities are indeed inescapable, because Heck's fears of being a coward make up a central theme throughout the book. I was also reminded of one of the earliest Vietnam novels, a short book by William Pelfrey called The Big V, now out of print and difficult to find. But there too were many of the same images and characters to be found in Crane - the accidental wound, the running away in the face of the enemy, followed by a courageous charge up a hill. The fearful, doubt-torn protagonist, as well as "the tall soldier" - in Arvin's book blown to bits before Heck's eyes. There is the cathedral-like clearing encountered in the forest, the impersonal disc of the sun watching over it all, uncaring, unmoved. All of these elements from the Crane classic were in the Pelfrey novel, and are also here in Arvin's. The US Civil War, WWII, and Vietnam. The quintessential test of manhood in time of war, the finding out - courage and cowardice, that confusing and terrifying mixture - it's all here. And then the surprising and riveting turn taken in the final twenty-five pages of the Arvin book, all based on historical fact, that gives the story its own unique twist. Elaborating on this would spoil the story for future readers, so I won't. Suffice it to say that war fiction seldom rises to this level. I will recommend it highly.
  • (5/5)
    We're currently reading this for a book group at work. It's not one any of us would pick up on our own. It's very well written and moving and provokes a lot of discussion. Very timely!
  • (1/5)
    This is the "One Book, One Denver" selection. It was gory! This coming of age story of Heck from Iowa beginning his adulthood in battle in Europe during WWII was hard to stomach. I'm sure it was fairly true to the experience of soldiers at that time, but just too much information for me -- amputations, bodies being blown apart, rotting stinking flesh, dead decaying bodies of humans and animals... Wow, just too much (and not in a good way)!