Thursday, July 22, 2004

Storm of Steel

Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel is the next book I'm buying. Michael Dirda says that it's a "great book" that "matter-of-factly conveys the mysterious glamour of war, the exhilaration of its excess and intensity and, not least, the undeniable glory of men bravely preparing for battle as for "some terrible silent ceremonial that portends human sacrifice."

From the Washington Post Book World review:

Once [Junger] encountered a lone English soldier, separated from his own lines:

"It was a relief to me, finally, to have the foe in front of me and within reach. I set the mouth of the pistol at the man's temple -- he was too frightened to move -- while my other fist grabbed his tunic, feeling medals and badges of rank. An officer; he must have held some command post in these trenches. With a plaintive sound, he reached into his pocket, not to pull out a weapon, but a photograph which he held up to me. I saw him on it, surrounded by numerous family, all standing on a terrace.

"It was a plea from another world. Later, I thought it was blind chance that I let him go and plunged onward. That one man of all often appeared in my dreams. I hope that meant he got to see his homeland again."

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