Anatomy of a Soldier
A stunning debut — of patriotism, heroism, and profound humanism — that will immediately take its place on the short shelf of classics about men at war and what all that truly means.
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‘Marvellously told’ Alan Bennett
‘Alive to every nuance of feeling’ Hilary Mantel
‘A brilliant book’ Edna O’Brien
‘Beautifully constructed and moving’ Val McDermid
‘A tour de force’ Nadeem Aslam
‘Compassionate and compelling’ Kate Hamer
‘An endless ability to surprise’ Phil Klay
‘Will enthrall, enlighten, and stay with readers’ General David Petraeus
Captain Tom Barnes is leading British troops in a war zone. Two boys are growing up there, sharing a prized bicycle and flying kites, before finding themselves separated once the soldiers appear in their countryside. On all sides of this conflict, people are about to be caught up in the violence, from the man who trains one boy to fight the infidel invaders to Barnes’s family waiting for him to return home.
We see them not as they see themselves, but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a trove of dollars, a drone, that bike, weaponry, a bag of fertilizer, a medal, a beer glass, a snowflake, dog tags, an exploding IED and the medical implements that are subsequently employed.
Anatomy of a Soldier is a moving, enlightening and fiercely dramatic novel about one man’s journey of survival and the experiences of those around him. Forty-five objects, one unforgettable story.
It's marvellously told and this way of telling it ... giving the inanimate a voice ... is both engrossing and distancing and I know of nothing quite like it.
It is a novel of concentrated ferocity and chilling accomplishments, tense and unflinching but alive to every nuance of feeling.
This is a brilliant book, direct from the battle zone, where all the paraphernalia of slaughter is deployed to tell its particular and savage story.
A tour de force. In this brilliant and beguiling novel Harry Parker sees the hidden forces that act on the bodies and souls of combatants and non-combatants. These pages are dangerous but they contain compassion and sorrow too. There is wonder here at what men have done to themselves. It feels like war through the looking glass but it is utterly real.
Highly original. This is a compassionate and compelling book where the artefacts and detritus of war tell their own emotive stories. The language has a clarity about it that elevates it to the beautiful.
We've become desensitized to war stories, but Harry Parker - not simply through the originality of his approach but also through skillful storytelling, intimate observation, and an endless ability to surprise and move the reader - cuts past our calluses and delivers a bold new narrative of war and its aftermath.
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