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I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
I loved Robert Graves??? I Claudius and Hercules My Shipmate when I was young, and so had been wanting to read his autobiography, Good-bye to All That. Graves covers his painful school boy education (stale tradition, sadistic bullying, and usually platonic homosexuality), his transformative service with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during World War I (training, waiting, the Battle of Loos, and the Somme Offensive), and then his immediate post-war life (a teaching job in Egypt and the making and losing of a family).
Throughout, Graves??? writing is accurate, witty, and spare. His description of trench warfare, complete with constant shelling, hidden snipers, poison gas, shoddy equipment, foolish commanders, suicidal charges, meaningless battles, prolific rats, and seemingly random deaths and reprieves, is horrifying. He exposes the full range of human behavior in wartime: bravery, cowardice, infidelity, loyalty, increasing brotherly bonding and enemy loathing, and ignorant patriotism fed by mass media propaganda. I keenly listened to details like Graves and his friends feeling good (rather than envious) when one of their number got wounded enough to be taken safely out of the action, Graves choosing which new recruits would make good officers by watching them play rugby, his being so awfully young when his war service began (by 21 he had seen heavy fighting and had been promoted to Captain), and his suffering from PTSD for years after his war service ended.
I was also interested in the cultural context of his memoir, of the growth of pacifism and feminism and modern poetry. And I enjoyed his sketches of various important literary figures like Siegfried Sassoon, T. E. Lawrence, and John Masefield.
Martin Jarvis??? reading is impeccable and engaging, and pleasant period music ends one chapter to begin the next.
But???I didn???t notice when I bought this book that it was abridged! Grrr! It does feel incomplete and I feel foolish.
This version of Goodbye to All That is an utter disappointment. It is severely abridged, meaning that any coherence of story or context of actions is completely obliterated.
This book needs to be unabridged to fully appreciate its significance.
I would not have cut any. I would have added ALL back in. This book cannot be abridged or cut.
This version of Goodbye to All That is very, very disappointing. The only good thing is the reader, Martin jarvis, who does a great job reading the very limited material.
"A compelling and account of WW1, beautifully read"
This, to my surprise, is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard. Rather ashamed of never reading it before because of my horror of violence, I found the book heartbreaking certainly, but told with calm and even humour at times. This meant that the appalling conditions could be taken in because of the lightness of touch of the writing.Details were fascinating. I hadn't realised, for example, that Robert Graves had become friends with Siegfried Sassoon and others during the war.It is interesting that Graves' story begins with his hard experiences of public school life - and this too perhaps explains why so many heroic young men from such schools who flocked to be officers were able to accept the nasty brutish experience of France. But he makes sure too that we see the bravery and resilience of the men - and how their war was often made so much worse by the insensitivity and even idiocy of the heirarchy whose uniforms never saw blood and mud. The section on the language and attitudes he becomes aware of from the jingoists back in England makes one want to weep.Robert Graves was one of the very few young officers who survived the war - and even afterwards his post war experience makes it clear that the mental suffering of those years was very great even for men like him who were able to keep their sense of humour and perspective. He never once betrays any self pity - and his evident fury at the waste of life caused by the unnecessary prolonging of the war after 1915 is only quietly expressed - and is all the more powerful for that.
It has something of the flavour of "Birdsong" - but what makes it so remarkable is that, unlike Sebastian Faulkes' excellent novel, "Goodbye to all That" is a first hand series of true memories, written with honesty and humour, compassion for others and no plea for pity for himself. The scenes of actual battle are matter of fact - and all the more powerful for that.
Martin Jarvis is very easy to listen to and he is one of my favourite narrators.His range - from William stories to the horrors of war - is impressive.
No. Sometimes one wanted to stop to let parts of the account sink in. I listened mainly while walking in the country. I think I heard it all in about five sessions.
The UK Minister of Education has suggested in this centenary year that accounts of WW1 that emphasise to the public the horrors are only because "left wing academics" choose to "feed myths" about World War One. One wonders if he has ever actually read first hand accounts such as this. Robert Graves, Siegfried Sasson, Wilfred Owen and others, whose medals proved their outstanding bravery, were all too aware of the hell on earth of the trenches - because they were there in the bloody thick of it. Now more than ever we must take on board the message of their writing and not allow politicians to enlist our "patriotism" for their own ends, mere trade advantage or empire building.
"One of the greatest autobiographies of all time"
Honest account of public school pre 1914, plus life on the Western Front. Particularly like the interaction between Graves and Bertrand Russell, told by the author. Both agreed the WWI was "wicked nonsense", yet had completely different attitudes to how to behave. Russell went to prison for his anti war protests, while Graves showed great bravery fighting in the trenches. All the more fatalistic, because Graves' mother was German and he had relatives fighting on the other side of the Trenches.
Martin Jarvis reads well, a sardonic, well paced English voice.
A eulogy to sadder times
"A load of old twaddle"
No, just anyone from the interwar years
Yes, not his fault Graves' life is much less interesting than his novels ;-)
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