Press Release: Under Fire


Henri Barbusse

Translated by Robin Buss
Introduced by Hew Strachan

‘His picture is of another existence than that drawn by the
eloquent war correspondents, who cannot describe the soldier’s life because they have not lived it, and would not be allowed to describe it if they had.’
manchester guardian, September 1917

Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire is a groundbreaking masterpiece, a harrowing fictionalised account of his experiences of trench warfare that stands alongside All Quiet on the Western Front and The Middle Parts of Fortune as one of the three great novels of the First World War. Astonishingly, it was published in 1916, at the very height of the conflict, and within a year had sold almost a quarter of a million copies to readers on the battlefield and at home, desperate for an ‘authentic’ account of the war.

Robin Buss’s translation captures Barbusse’s extraordinary combination of the crude, the poetic and the apocalyptic. This stunning edition enhances his vivid text with haunting documentary photographs of ordinary French soldiers – the poilus – taken on the battlefield and an introduction by pre-eminent military historian, Hew Strachan, exploring Under Fire’s groundbreaking and controversial combination of fact and fiction.

Henri Barbusse started Under Fire in hospital after being invalided out from the front-line, drawing on the journal he kept in the trenches. In a series of meticulously observed episodes, we follow a diverse group of men of all ages, and from all over France – war is simply a matter of survival lightened only by the arrival of their rations, a glimpse of a pretty girl or a brief reprieve in the hospital. Under Fire vividly evokes life in the trenches: the mud, stench and monotony of waiting while constantly fearing for one’s life in an infernal and seemingly eternal battlefield.

Under Fire is dedicated to the memory of his fallen comrades – between 9 and 13 January 1915 half of his unit was killed – and Barbusse used his royalties to found the Association Républicaine des Anciens Combattants, an organisation devoted to defending the rights, and the testimony, of war veterans.

Product information
Bound in blocked cloth. Set in Galliard with Folio display. 376 pages. Frontispiece and
16 black & white integrated photographs. Printed endpapers. 9½˝ x 6¼˝.

UK £34.95 US $51.95 Can $69.95 Aus $69.95


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