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A Moment of War by Laurie Lee
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As a impressionable young man Lee wanted to fight alongside the Spanish as a volunteer during their civil war in 1937. He made the trek across the Pyrenees expecting Spain to welcome him to the conflict with arms wide open. Much to his surprise he was immediately arrested as a spy. So begins Lee's memoir of a naive coming of age in wartime Spain. Throughout this short little memoir Lee's disillusionment becomes stronger and stronger until when he is finally sent home he has this last parting shot: "Here were the names of the dead heroes, piled into little cardboard boxes, never to be inscribed later in official Halls of Remembrance" (p 174). Sad. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 6, 2017 |
A short but poetic addition to the previous autobiography. The author recounts his memories of a brief time in Spain fighting for the republicans against General Franco and the fascists. An interesting insight into the suspicion, banality and eventually swift brutality of modern war.

It felt like a very real experience, although reading the foreward after I'd finished the book there is some debate about whether or not it was. It was still a good read though and thought provoking in some of its insights. ( )
  fothpaul | May 12, 2015 |
I've never been a member of the armed forces, let alone been in a war, but Lee's writing strikes me as what being in that situation is actually like. Books like Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls paint the Spanish Civil War as disorganized, sure, but on the macro level. Lee shows that the war was disorganized and confusing on the personal level as well, with chance encounters saving foreign volunteers from being considered spies, with random assignments and relocations, with your next meal coming from wherever you can find it. It also depicts killing an enemy in war, not as some big production or a vivid memory, but something that happens in a flash as you are scared for your life. Again, I have no idea if this is true, but it rang true. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Le 5 décembre 1937, Laurie Lee, âgé de 23 ans, franchit à pied et dans la neige la frontière des Pyrénées, et découvre une Espagne ravagée par une année de guerre civile. Sensible à leur colère, il désire s'engager auprès des républicains. L'heure est à la méfiance, mais jamais le jeune Anglais ne se départira de son violent désir de lutter contre la peste nationaliste. Au menu de chaque jour : scènes de désolation, froid implacable, attentes interminables et le silence parmi des ruines. Magnifique conclusion à la trilogie autobiographique de l'Anglais Laurie Lee (1914-1997), entamée avec Rosie ou le goût du cidre (Libretto, 2003) et Un beau matin d'été (Libretto, 2004) ce récit évoque, de façon vivante et poignante, la défaite héroïque de l'idéalisme naïf au cours de cette ' décennie misérable et malhonnête ' tant de fois dénoncée par WH Auden.
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
Of No Moment

“We drove in silence, in a dumb state of nothing, having no part of what we saw, nor any certain direction.”

p. 151.* This quote from Laurie Lee’s A Moment of War could be a description of what it is like to read the book. There is no story in the sense of narrative structure, plot, or character development. Such deficiencies might be forgiven as this is a non-fiction book, but then one would expect to learn something other than the author’s chance impressions at a certain time of his life. Lee describes his experiences in the Spanish Civil War without giving an explanation for his volunteering to fight for the Republic, without any explanation or explication about the Civil War itself, and without any differentiation of emphasis from one experience to the next. It is as if he collected a set of verbal postcards with little connection among them, flashed them one after the other before our eyes, and expected us to have a cinematic experience. Lee describes the looks and smells of things, but not how he feels or what he thinks of these things. It is as if he has “no part” of what he saw. This is a book without “certain direction.”

*Laurie Lee (1991), A Moment of War. New York: The New Press, Publisher. ( )
  Banbury | Jul 24, 2011 |
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But in "A Moment of War," you sense that there was no order anywhere in Spain and that a different kind of narrative is required, a story told in "gritty, throwaway lines -- quietly savage, but with no dramatics." In paragraph after paragraph, scene after scene of this book, the reader comes upon terse non sequiturs, because the only pattern in Mr. Lee's experience of the Spanish Civil War was its lack of pattern. Even the climactic moment, the one scene of battle, expires in derangement: "I headed for the old barn where I'd spent my first night. I lay in a state of sick paralysis. I had killed a man, and remembered his shocked, angry eyes . . . I began to have hallucinations and breaks in the brain . . . Was this then what I'd come for, and all my journey had meant -- to smudge out the life of an unknown young man in a blur of panic which in no way could affect victory or defeat?"
added by Polaris- | editNew York Times (Jul 25, 1993)
 
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In December 1937 I crossed the Pyrenees from France - two days on foot through the snow.
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A firsthand account of the Spanish Civil War from one of England’s most celebrated authors In December 1937 I crossed the Pyrenees from France—two days on foot through the snow. I don’t know why I chose December; it was just one of a number of idiocies I committed at the time. Such was Laurie Lee’s entry into the Spanish Civil War. Six months after the Nationalist uprising forced him to leave the country he had grown to love, he returned to offer his life for the Republican cause. It seemed as simple as knocking on a farmhouse door in the middle of the night and declaring himself ready to fight. It would not be the last time he was almost executed for being a spy. In that bitter winter in a divided Spain, Lee’s youthful idealism came face to face with the reality of war. The International Brigade he sought to join was not a gallant fighting force, but a collection of misfits without proper leadership or purpose. Boredom and bad food and false alarms were as much a part of the experience of war as actual battle. And when the decisive moment finally came— the moment of him or the enemy—it left Lee feeling the very opposite of heroic. The final volume in Laurie Lee’s acclaimed autobiographical trilogy—preceded by Cider with Rosie and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning —is a clear-eyed and vital snapshot of a young man, and a proud nation, at a historic crossroads.… (more)

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