War in the Wasteland by Douglas Bond
“Full-scale assault,” said Sergeant Ayres.
“Another one?” said Nigel. “Boche learned nothing from the last one?”
“Not them.” Ayres shook his head soberly. “It’s a counter attack. Tomorrow morning, first light. It’s us over the top.”
Nigel Hopkins finds himself in the trenches of World War I under the command of teenage atheist 2/Lt C.S. Lewis. Nigel and his war dog must learn the source of true courage while facing a desperate enemy in No Man’s Land in the final offensive of the war.
Meanwhile, underage WAAC Elsie Fleming, working at the field hospital in Étaples, will have her idealism about war challenged by the brutal realities she sees in the broken men who return from the Front—and the many who never return.
I went into reading War in the Wasteland with very little knowledge of WWI. Not the battlefront. I had studied how the people at home coped, at least, in the United States, but I hadn’t really read much about the actual war.
War in the Wasteland kept close to Nigel as he shipped out, joined his platoon on the Front, landed in the hospital, fought battles, got to know his comrades, faced the harrows of killing the enemy… I could almost feel the mud and filth, hear the guns and explosions, see the destruction of land and the death of men. I know that my imagination still falls far short of the reality, but I left the book with a far deeper perspective and appreciation for what so many soldiers fighting in the Great War went through. Just how much those left at home lost.
I really also enjoyed Nigel, the young eighteen-year-old, shipped out to war so soon after his birthday. Courageous, yet very human, seeing the war through his eyes, listening to the debates of his senior officers, and taking care of his loyal terrier.
Reading about an atheist C.S. Lewis, I found to be fascinating. In many ways, Mr. Bond kept the “voice” that I have come to recognize from reading works by C.S. Lewis intact, though his verbalized opinions were certainly not those I tend to associate with him. Knowing that the author well-researched the man, before attempting to write him into a historical fiction novel, it is truly amazing to think of the change the LORD wrought in C.S. Lewis’ life and thoughts. I knew much of this before, but seeing it in dialogue form proved to be fascinating and memorable.
I can honestly say that I never figured out for certain if a few characters were fictional or truly from history. I would have loved a complete list of historical characters, such as Mr. Bond included in the back of Duncan’s War. I can’t say that the lack affected my enjoyment of the story, but it would have satisfied my historical curiosity.
I would certainly recommend this book.
About the Author
Douglas Bond, father of six, is the author of a number of successful books. He directs the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class, speaks at conferences, and leads historical tours. Visit his website at: www.bondbooks.net
To the KING be all glory!