Willie enlists for combat with the 16th battalion because he is not tall enough to be a police officer, like his father, wanting respect. He hopes his love will wait for him to arrive home as a hero.
You see where this is going, right?
Of course you do. But Barry writes with such meaningful, beautiful prose that it is worth every page. Just as many of us were shocked by the images in Apocalypse Now or Platoon, the descriptions in this slender novel are haunting. Walking through the bodies of your fallen mates in order to fight Germans whose blood is as red as your own? These are the cobwebs in the corners of nightmares.
Historically, the novel sweats perfect details. Barry did his research. Irish fighting for their "king" creates even more tension.
I've sat on a panel discussion regarding dialogue. I've found my new Bible. I fell in love with Christy and his rages about the "fucking war," which could be interpreted as the quality of food or the weather, depending upon his mood, but is only told via dialogue.
Lucky stretch of excellent books...
4.9 out of 5.0 Captain's Specials.