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Through the Wheat: A Novel: A Library of America eBook Classic

155 pages3 hours


A neglected classic offers an unflinching depiction of the physical and psychological cost of modern warfare.

For his 1923 novel Through the Wheat Thomas Boyd drew on his own experiences with the Marines at Belleau Wood, Soissons, and St. Mihiel to tell the story of William Hicks, an infantryman fighting in France in 1918. Hicks endures hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and fatigue as his platoon advances through dense woods and open fields in the face of hidden machine guns and sudden artillery bombardments, experiencing alternating states of fear, nausea, fury, and apathy until he becomes “impervious to the demands of the dead and the living.” When it was first published, Through the Wheat was hailed by F. Scott Fitzgerald as “the best war book since The Red Badge of Courage,” and by Edmund Wilson as “probably the most authentic novel yet written by an American about war”; fifty years later, James Dickey praised it as “a war book of the most striking and moving kind.”

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