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Articles of War by Nick Arvin
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Articles of War

by Nick Arvin

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Nick Arvin's prose belies his involvement in the University of Iowa's writer's workshop, but the plot is less clich�� than the self-aware writing style. For me, that is; I don't read much war fiction. If the composition was careful, what he composed was remarkable. The protagonist's panic, horror, and ignorance in battle evoked a reaction similar to that of The Road. Not as universally horrifying, because (to someone who has never seen combat), World War II is a finite, self-contained, known quantity ��� unlike everything in the McCarthy.

This is for bookclub next week, and it's also the One City, One Book selection for Denver in 2008. It should be good for conversation.
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
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. ( )
  DJRMel | Apr 3, 2013 |
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.. ( )
  SandraButzel | Jan 4, 2013 |
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. ( )
  DJRMel | Nov 11, 2012 |
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. ( )
  ursula | Aug 27, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385512775, Hardcover)

Capturing the reality of war with a fidelity and power that echoes the best of classic war writing, this haunting novel brings to life the terrors of a young soldier in shocking, almost hallucinatory detail.

George Tilson is an eighteen-year-old Iowan farm boy who enlists in the army during World War II and is sent to Normandy shortly after D-Day. Nicknamed “Heck” because of his reluctance to curse, he is a typical soldier, willing to do his duty without fuss or much musing about grand goals. The night before he is trucked into the combat zone, Heck meets a young French refugee and her family, an encounter that unsettles him greatly.

It is during his first, horrific exposure to combat that Heck discovers a dark truth about himself: He is a coward. Shamed by his fears 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 the young French woman. As the stark reality of combat—the knowledge that he could cease to exist at any moment—presses in on him, Heck makes a series of choices that would be rational in every human situation except war.

With remorseless, hypnotic clarity, Arvin draws readers into the unimaginable fear, violence, and chaos of the war zone. Arvin layers profound meaning within a brilliantly executed minimalist style. His portrayal of the emotional and physical terrors Heck can neither understand nor escape is one of the most disturbing and unforgettable accounts of the life of a soldier ever written.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

During his exposure to combat, George "Heck" Tilson, an eighteen-year-old Iowa farm boy sent to Normandy just after D-Day, discovers that he is a coward and, tormented by the perils around him, struggles to survive the horrors of war.

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