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Articles of War Paperback – February 14, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (February 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077342
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fierce, compact tale of one grunt's war takes readers to the same time and place—the woods of northern France in 1944—where Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim was captured by the Germans. George Tilson, aka Heck, is another awkward, uncertain American 18-year-old mobilized from America's heartland to the European theater. Disembarked in Normandy, he meets a struggling French family: a one-armed painter; his daughter, Claire; and son, Ives. Claire nearly takes Heck's virginity, but he fumbles her seduction in a fit of fear. He's then trucked off to battle, where he experiences real panic under bombardment: "The noise was like nothing he had ever experienced before, a noise such as might be used to herald the beginning of a terrible new world." Heck is halfway through his nightmarish advance through a forest peppered with German snipers and booby traps before he fires his gun in anger, and that's only to kill the company dog. His second shot comes when his company sergeant, Conlee, an ex-foxhole mate and one of many to mark Heck as a coward, enlists him in an unexplained but horrifying mission. Arvin's first novel is an elegant, understated testament to the stoicism, accidental cowardice and occasional heroics of men under fire.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Arvin, inspired by his grandfathers’ service during World War II (one with American forces, the other with the German Army), captures the horrors of battle in his first novel. Leaving out the epic sweep of standard historical fiction, the author builds his narrative from one young soldier’s experience. Arvin is especially acute in his examination of the psychology of bravery when faced with devastation. His minimalist prose, which captures the panic, horror, carnage, and chaos of war, packs more emotional and descriptive punch than its simplicity would denote. Only the romantic subplot involving Heck and a French girl draws sustained critical fire, especially from The New York Times. But most agree that Articles of War is a timely, self-assured debut.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I'm glad I own a hardback.
Mark Stevens
As poetic as the writing just quoted is, Arvin can also conjure the unimaginable.
Grady Harp
The ending however seems to have defined the book.
James H. Dean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In ARTICLES OF WAR Nick Arvin has, in this first Novel (he has previously published short stories under the name of 'In the Electric Eden: Stories') stepped into the echelon of writers who are able to credibly recreate the horrors of war without finding the need to justify the concept of war as a viable means for resolution of issues. This is an exceptional novel that relentlessly defines the passion, the fear, the atrocities, the visceral responses to the annhilation of fellow human beings, and places those responses squarely in the body of one terrified eighteen-year-old boy. The effect is devastating and the result is one of the most vehement antiwar novels ever written.

George Tilson, nicknamed 'Heck' because of his refusal to use profanity, is a simple Iowa boy who by draft enlists in the Army to please his newspaper publisher father. He has no political fervor, no adolescent need to prove his virility: Heck simply knows how to follow orders, place training camp in the role of playacting, and accept his shipment to Omaha Beach, Normandy in 1944. A loner by nature, Heck observes his environment, is shipped to various campaigns, and remains a passive severely frightened youth. Once he is in battle he is horrified by the killing, the strewn dead bodies, witnessing the implosion of a recruit from a land mine, the stinging deaths of fellow soldiers, the look in the eyes of dead Germans, discovering the bodies of French victims, inadvertently sludging through corpses, the decimation of the landscape, the filth of living in rain-gutted foxholes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens VINE VOICE on August 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This story is a gem. It's compact, serene, and powerful. The writing is clear and sober. The main character is wonderfully complex, given the spare story and brief time we get to spend with him. I'd rank this up there with "Going After Cacciato" or "Slaughterhouse Five" for best war novels ever. "Articles of War" is a finely-crafted portrait of reluctance. Sample of prose: "It began to rain, and he wanted in his tent listening to the drumming of it. Idly, he tried to remember the songs his mother would sing in the kitchen, but he could recall only a phrase or two. He'd never been able to carry a melody himself. In the mess tent at lunch he sat alone. Then he pulled on a plastic rain poncho and set off to find Albert, Ives, and Claire at the chateau. While he walked the rain slackened to a misting drizzle, then tapered to nothing. Low wraits of fog rose from the hollows of the land, looking solid and sulky and unlikely to retreat before the feeble sunlight that filtered through the ashen clouds." When war comes, the writing is no less blunt or observant. When hard choices must be made, the interior thoughts of "Heck" are gripping and vivid. Just when you think you've got the sense of this novel, the plot takes an interesting and fascinating turn and you have to agree that war, as the book so bluntly makes clear, is a universe unto itself. I'm glad I own a hardback. Nick Arvin is a fantastic writer.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This one, I admit, caught me off guard. I have not read a work this well written in some time now. This is bare bones stuff. I hate to compare this work with any others, but must admit that Red Badge of Courage kept popping into my mind. This work was just as haunting, just as sparse and just as well done. The story here alone is worth the read, but the real treat is the author's ability to write and write well! I admit to having rather archaic taste in writing, but do feel that most who love well written words will appreciate this one. The author's style does take me back. I strongly suspect that we will be hearing more from Mr. Arvin, anyway, I hope so. Highly and strongly recommend this one. Thank you Mr. Arvin!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andidu on April 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Arvin's story collection was among my favorites in recent years, but I still hesitated to read this novel, fearing it was going to be bleak and depressing. But Arvin transports readers to a world that is singular and terrifying and yet strangely transcendent. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a dark, futuristic film will find the same otherworldliness in these pages -- a besieged countryside, a slowly breaking man, and the small victories that keep him surviving. There's no flinching in the telling; there's also no putting this book down once you're into the story. Brace yourself for the novel's climactic scene -- it's devastating and unforgettable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. McCulloch on March 24, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
by all who care about anyone who has ever experienced war. This is a rivetting description of fear and the degredation of war told through the eyes of a simple, everyday American. The definition of courage is a central theme that crecendos with a surprising event. Not a pleasant topic but the book is so well written that I couldn't put it down until it reached a very unexpected ending. Cudos to Nick Arvin. Excellant writer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on January 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Articles of War reminds me of a rare gem that has been finely and professionally cut and polished. It is a precise and narrow vision of one man's experience in the combat hell that was World War II. Although the protagonist's nickname is Heck, because he refused to use profanity of any kind (a promise to his dead mother), he quickly learns of Hell in the Hurtgen forest and the infamous Battle of the Bulge, enduring the bone-chilling winter cold, the short supply of congealed canned rations, and the caked filth of living in cramped close quarters of underground bunkers, hiding from German snipers and artillery strikes, cowering with his equally terrified and traumatized squad mates like small burrowing animals.

Other reviewers have commented on parallels to Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, and the similarities are indeed inescapable, because Heck's fears of being a coward make up a central theme throughout the book. I was also reminded of one of the earliest Vietnam novels, a short book by William Pelfrey called The Big V, now out of print and difficult to find. But there too were many of the same images and characters to be found in Crane - the accidental wound, the running away in the face of the enemy, followed by a courageous charge up a hill. The fearful, doubt-torn protagonist, as well as "the tall soldier" - in Arvin's book blown to bits before Heck's eyes. There is the cathedral-like clearing encountered in the forest, the impersonal disc of the sun watching over it all, uncaring, unmoved. All of these elements from the Crane classic were in the Pelfrey novel, and are also here in Arvin's. The US Civil War, WWII, and Vietnam.
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