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Regeneration Paperback – July 1, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 174 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Regeneration, one in Pat Barker's series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Yet the novel is much more. Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear -- the descriptions of electronic treatments are particularly harrowing -- it combines real-life characters and events with fictional ones in a work that examines the insanity of war like no other. Barker also weaves in issues of class and politics in this compactly powerful book. Other books in the series include The Eye in the Door and the Booker Award winner The Ghost Road.

From Library Journal

In 1917, decorated British officer and poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote a declaration condemning the war. Instead of a court-martial, he was sent to a hospital for other "shell-shocked" officers where he was treated by Dr. William Rivers, noted an thropologist and psychiatrist. Author Barker turns these true occurrences into a compelling and brilliant antiwar novel. Sassoon's complete sanity disturbs Dr. Rivers to such a point that he questions his own role in "curing" his patients only to send them back to the slaughter of the war in France. World War I decimated an entire generation of European men, and the horrifying loss of life and the callousness of the government led to the obliteration of the Victorian ideal. This is an important and impressive novel about war, soldiers, and humanity. It belongs in most fiction collections.
- C. Christopher Pavek, National Economic Research As socs. Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (July 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345325664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345325662
  • ASIN: 0452270073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Having read the entire trilogy fairly recently, I find it hard to distinguish between the first book alone and the complete work. However, Regeneration itself does stick out by being the most well-researched and well-informed of the three. I presume that many people have heard about Sassoon's 1917 public objection to the way the war was being waged, which caused him to be put under the supervision of Dr. Rivers - but I had not before reading this novel.
The incident was so fascinating that I have since read further about Sassoon, Rivers and the war experience for those who suffered from neurasthenia - all of which reading has confirmed what I initially suspected, that Barker's novel, as well as being exceptionally well-written, insightful and moving, is also extremely true to events and situations. For the benefit of the "novel"-reading world, a fictional "hero" is added, whose life continues in tandem with Wilfred Owen's into the next two books; yet even he, Billy Prior, is more a composition deriving from real soldiers' experiences than the imagination.
Not to say that Barker does not apply her creativity to the full - in her descriptive style, and in stringing together of the various lives she is describing. She has insight into character which is both moving and important - it reminds us that beyond the cliches of tragedy lay a very human, normal and mostly dull war, whose effects were nevertheless all-encompassing and disruptive.
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Format: Paperback
Having just finished reading "Birdsong" I felt compelled to read more about a period of time that is moving out of living memory. I think "Regeneration" is a superb book that is well written, well researched and moving. I think books like this are so important because we should not be allowed to forget what the people of that time went through and we should not be allowed to trivialise what the First World War did to human beings and how it broke the seemingly Golden Age that had developed throughout Victorian and Edwardian England. I think the novel helps to honour the memory of the people who gave their lives in the war over something they did not understand or comprehend. The book is not just about war as it goes far deeper in helping to explain humanity, gender, class and truth. "Regeneration" is a disturbing and thought provoking book which people should read firstly because it is a good book and secondly becuase it will ensure that you do not forget what the people of the time and especially the soliders went through. They were caught up in a war of industrial proportions and were caught up in a war that they did not understand and we should forever hold them in high regard and in our memories. Afterall, in one month in 1917 there were 104,000 casualties in the war. Sacrifice like that deserves and should be remembered.
From a literary point of view, this book is superbly crafted and is an original work of fiction with a good story. It is energetic and highly readable and I recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Paperback
This first book in Barker's WWI trilogy is based on the real-life treatment of poet Siegfried Sassoon by psychiatrist and anthropologist Dr. William Rivers at Craiglockhart War Hospital. Sassoon has publicly denounced the war as a "senseless slaughter" and refuses to fight anymore. The powers that be assign him to Rivers' care as a victim of "shell shock" - a traumatic experience that leaves men unable to function. The hospital's aim is not so much to cure as to return men to active duty - an objective that leaves Rivers conflicted as doctor and a humanitarian.
In an era when treatment of mental illnesses was often barbaric, (as in a memorable scene near the book's conclusion), Rivers' treatment plan is to cure with compassion and respect for the patient. He allows these men the freedom to work through their experiences instead of repressing them. In doing so, he takes some of their suffering onto himself, and is changed in the process. The give and take between doctor and patient is the real meat of the story.
But beyond the plot, there's a lot to think about in this novel. In fact, the real genius of this work is not the plot or the characters or the setting, but rather the seemingly endless array of serious ethical questions that crop up as these men struggle with their situations. Was Britain justified in going to war against Germany? Can war ever be moral? Who is responsible for the actions of nations? Do soldiers abdicate their moral responsibilities when they don the uniform? How can a doctor cure a patient's infirmity only to send him back to the front lines to die? How does this apply to conscientious objectors? Is it enough to treat symptoms when the underlying causes are psychological?
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Format: Paperback
"You must speak, but I shall not listen to anything you say."
A Doctor who is engaged in helping a World War I Soldier to regain his speech makes this statement. For anyone who has read of this war, you may agree it was a particularly gruesome event, abetted by the latest in weaponry. This Doctor who is supposed to heal, has the medical ethics of a Mengele. "Regeneration" by Pat Barker is the first of three acts, that examine War, its advocates, the objectors, and groups that society continues to marginalize to this day. This book is a brutal assault; it offers no respite, no quarter to the reader. Some have compared her writing of War to Hemingway, a comparison to Erich Maria Remarque may startle some, but this woman's grasp of the war is remarkable. All three parts of the trilogy were honored with awards, the final volume with The Booker Prize.
Many of the players, locations, and events in this work actually exist or transpired. Part of the intensity of the writing derives from the impact only true history can make. The balance of the impact is due to Ms. Barker, and her skill of creating the sense of an epic in a scant 250+pages. There are no innocents in this book; guilt is another emotional commodity that prevails.
I don't know that philosophically a pro war book could be credible. Such a book could be written, and few will argue that conflict at times is inevitable, if only because it is part of our nature. What Pat Barker does is to bring back the horror of war without sanitizing or sensationalizing the events.
We no longer fight wars like the one that brought us Versailles. The barbaric behavior continues, but the exposure it gets to the public is measured. Death in combat has not changed.
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