Good-natured and garrulous, Svejk becomes the Austro-Hungarian army’s most loyal Czech soldier when he is called up on the outbreak of the First World War – although his bumbling attempts to get to the front serve only to prevent him from reaching it. Playing cards, getting drunk and becoming a general nuisance, the resourceful Svejk uses all his natural cunning and genial subterfuge to deal with the doctors, police, clergy and officers who chivvy him towards battle.

The story of a ‘little man’ caught in a vast bureaucratic machine, The Good Soldier Svejk combines dazzling wordplay and … More

Spring 1944, the south coast of England. The Fifth Battalion, Wessex Regiment wait patiently and nervously for the order to embark. There is boredom and fear, comedy and pathos as the men – all drawn from different walks of life – await the order to move. From The City, From The Plough is a vivid and moving account of the fate of these men as they set off for Normandy and advance into France. The novel is not about the actual fighting alone; the larger part of it paints a picture of what happens in between battles and before: the training, the discipline, the boredom; about how the military machine uproots individuals, throws them together in new environments and forces them to establish new personal relationships.

The novel contains many living character sketches of seemingly quiet and timid individuals who grow in stature in the face … More