First published in London in 1927, "The Somme" and its companion, "The Coward", constitute the only published literary achievements of A. D. Gristwood, a reluctant accountant turned even more reluctant infantryman in the London Rifle Brigade who later fell under the tutelage of H. G. Wells. Heavily autobiographical and much influenced by Wells's guidance, Gristwood's tales of World War I combat are rife with acts of unheroic self-preservation and colored with the fear, bitterness, and hopelessness that defined the author's wartime experience. "The Somme" centers on a futile attack in 1916 during the Somme campaign on the Western Front. The uncourageous behavior of wounded protagonist Tom Everitt both in and out of combat reflects Gristwood's assessment of the weak mettle of British forces at this stage of the war. In "The Coward", a soldier commits an act of self-mutilation to escape combat duty, an offense punishable by death, and is haunted first by fear of discovery and later by self-loathing. This first reissue of "The Somme, Including Also The Coward" marks the only edition available outside of the United Kingdom and includes a new introduction by Hugh Cecil detailing the author's biography and putting his work into a broader historical and literary context.
(source: Nielsen Book Data)