War! Huh! What is it Good For?
Absolutely nothin’ – apart from heartbreaking, brutal, sometimes funny & always deeply affecting war memoirs.
I’ve confined my selection to 20th Century conflicts, but of course these are just the tip of the literary iceberg. Ever since, aged 13, I discovered up Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall, the first book in Spike Milligan’s World War 2 memoir series, I have been drawn to this genre. As an insight into how ordinary people cope with the devastation of war, these 10 books are hard to beat. The Rupert Brooke/Wilfred Owen collection isn’t strictly speaking a memoir, clearly, but I think the poems qualify as condensed, intense memories of the unspeakable horror of the trenches.