Adult Fiction BOYD
Summary: "There is no battle in Tolstoy's War and Peace, no conflict in Stendhal's account of Waterloo, to equal the drama and terror of Boyd's account of Private Hicks' advance through the wheat," James Dickey writes in his Afterword to this new edition of a truly remarkable World War I novel. Earlier, in 1923 on the novel's first publication, F. Scott Fitzgerald closed his review of it with the statement that it "is not only the best combatant story of the great war but also the best war book since The Red Badge of Courage ," and was joined in his praise of the novel by such critics as Edmund Wilson. Boyd, who fought in the war, writes in the tradition of Stephen Crane. In Private Hicks, ordinary, young, trapped by World War I, he creates the archetype of the modern warrior for whom battle holds a horror no previous soldier had to endure--the horror of technology--because of which a man may fight, suffer wounds, die, without ever seeing the face of the enemy. It is a vision of war, Dickey adds, "that is as profound as any vision of war has ever been from the tribes of the caves to the ambushes of Vietnam." Boyd saw war as a massive, brutal rape on even the most elemental of human rights, a rape no man deserves, no mind can tolerate. Thomas Boyd, who died in 1935 at the age of thirty-six, joined the Marines as a high school student from Defiance, Ohio. He saw action on several fronts, was gassed, and was awarded the Croix de guerre.
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