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The Secret Battle

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169 pages4 hours

Summary

'The Secret Battle should be read in each generation, so that men and women may rest under no illusion about what war means, a soldier's tale cut in stone to melt all hearts' - Sir Winston Churchill. 

AP Herbert's The Secret Battle is one of the classic works of World War One fiction, praised by everyone from Churchill, to Arnold Bennett, to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. 

The Secret Battle draws upon A P Herbert's own experiences as a junior infantry officer in the First World War. It tells the tragic tale of an idealistic young officer, Harry Penrose. 

First in Gallipoli, then in the trenches of France, he is tested and brought to breaking point as he struggles to retain the ideals of military duty and courage amidst the daily miseries of the trenches. This narrative lays bare the real horrors of the First World War without melodrama or sensationalism. The author tells his story not with indignant protest, but with a sad resignation that makes this a haunting and deeply moving book.

More than ninety years after its first publication, the work has lost none of its freshness, relevance and poignancy. It remains an incredibly touching story of what might happen to a gallant soldier borne down by the stresses of war. And it raises important questions as to what constitutes courage, and the justice of executions in the First World War, still an open matter of debate and contention in the new century.

The Secret Battle includes a foreword by Sir Winston Churchill.

 

Praise for The Secret Battle

'The best story of front-line war I have read' - Field Marshall Montgomery. 

'Mr Herbert's story of the brave officer who is shot for cowardice belongs to the highest class of British war fiction. It is a little masterpiece' - Cyril Falls. 

'Written with classic restraint and something of classic beauty' - Arnold Bennett. 

Sir Alan Patrick Herbert was an English humourist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist. He was an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Oxford University for 15 years, five of which he combined with service in the Royal Navy.

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