Generals Die in Bed is a 1930 war novella written by Charles Yale Harrison, a former soldier himself. It details the horrific experience of a young soldier in the trenches during World War I. It was reissued for young adult audiences in 2002 by Annick Press and Penguin Books Australia. In the UK, it was also reissued by Red Fox. In both editions, the novel focuses on the horrors of war and the aftermath.
The novel is a great read and is highly recommended for fans of war literature. It is a poignant portrayal of war and the vanity of war, and the soldiers, often naive, are shown in the worst light. The generals’ patriotic slogans are equally tragic. Generals Die in Bed evokes the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, as well as Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.
Although the story focuses on the Battle of Amiens, the narrator suggests that war is all about killing fellow soldiers, not conquering an enemy. In this sense, war is not a morality play, but it is about killing fellow soldiers. And, most importantly, war is about killing human beings and the only people we should be killing are our fellow soldiers. The narrator is quite sardonic, so the reader must be prepared for some unpleasantness and realism.
Despite the fact that this war novel is based on the experiences of the author, it is nonetheless deeply political. It depicts war as hell, and the men who recklessly wage war are portrayed as enemies, not heroes. It is a testament to the impact of the war on society, and the morality of the generals. Although Harrison wrote Generals sixty years ago, it still resonates today. Its bleakness is still as relevant today as it was when it was published.