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Reviewed by Author Anna del C. Dye for Readers' Favorite
Henry Montherlant (1895-1972) published his war memoir, Dirge for the Dead of Verdun, in 1924. In this book, the author bluntly portrays the post traumatic stress syndrome that in our day is frequently mentioned, yet not fully understood by those who have never been in a battle or seen the horrors of war. Many of us don’t know what post traumatic stress syndrome is or how to help soldiers adapt to a civilian life after war. Many who didn’t go to war criticize soldiers and even call them monsters, which I am sure feels like a stab in the back after the sacrifice they rendered on behalf of those who now were calling them names. The book also goes about telling us the author’s feeling after the battle at Verdun, where the dead are being recovered and separated but many remain as unknown soldiers. A monument of some sort will be erected and placed there as a memorial to those who fought in a battle that lasted almost a year and where many millions were killed.
Translator Edd Wheeler's writing is fluid, but full of personal memories and strong feelings evoked by the author’s memories as he walks these battlefields. It is strong and full of real hidden emotions for those who fought and died near the author, and who were his closest friends. It is said of the author: "Montherlant’s transgression was indifference to custom, fashion, and unfavorable opinion by others. His preference to outrage may provoke, but it does not detract from wit and an eloquent recall of events." The events portrayed here are not a happy ending story, but rather the realities of a terrible battle and the sadness that the devastation of war caused in the hearts of those who lived it. This is good reading for those who enjoy reading about real life experiences in war, be it WWI or WWII. The recall by the author of the events in this book are graphic, but true to the nature of war.