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A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn

A Stricken Field (1940)

by Martha Gellhorn

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There were young knights among them who had never been present at a stricken field. Some could not look upon it and some could not speak and they held themselves apart from the others who were cutting down the prisoners at my Lord's orders, for the prisoners were a body too numerous to be guarded by those of us who were left. Then Jean de Rye, an aged knight of Burgundy who had been sore wounded in the battle, rode up to the group of young knights and said, "Are ye maidens with your downcast eyes? Look well upon it. See all of it. Close your eyes to nothing. For a battle is fought to be won. And it is this that happens if you lose."
from a Medieval Chronicle
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From this height the Rhine looked narrow, sluggish, and unimportant.
I wrote this book in 1939. (Afterword)
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'If you could leave and know the terror and confusion was ended; if you could leave, and others who did not leave could remain behind in safety ...'
Mary Douglas, an assured American, arrives in Prague in October of 1938, the days of disintegration following the Munich Pact, to find the city on the brink of blackout, transformed by fear. As the Gestapo net spreads wider, countless refugees - from Austria, Germany, Sudetenland - are forced to return: for many this will mean torture, concentration camp, death. In her hotel Mary greets other journalists who like herself, cover international disasters and depart, their detachment intact. But through her friend Rita, a German refugee, Mary becomes passionately involved with the plight of the hunted victims of Nazi rule. First published in 1940, this powerful novel, written from the author's own experience, is a compelling record of one of the darkest moments of Europe's history, and of the heroism of those who resisted the insane brutality of fascism.
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