RUNNING TO PARADISE by John Lodwick

RUNNING TO PARADISE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This book is the winner of the $1.000 war novel prize. It may be heralded as the All Quiet of this war. If so, and it has points of justifiable comparison, it should have been held to be published ten years after the war, and not in the midst of its horrors. For here -- more graphically than in any other book I have read -- is revealed the grim of soldier life, the psychology of defeatism that comes with the collapse of an accustomed world and the faith on which that world was built. The picture of the defeat of the French Army, as seen through a small group of Legionnaires, and principally through an Englishman who has enlisted while England was still debating war, is almost a day by day record of those engagements in which the German machine encountered scattered segments of the French Army in retreat. The subsequent story, after the defeat and some abortive attempts to redeem something, traces Dormant's imprisonment, his escape with Durand, his brutal self interest in ditching Durand, his adventure with casually met women, with various natives who either helped or hindered his escape -- sort of Seventh Cross passage through occupied and then unoccupied France. He was imprisoned again in unoccupied France, for stealing a bicycle, and you see the seamy side of French so called justice, military and civilian. The book is a debunking book, if one holds any illusions about the French, about the army, about mankind. It is not only sordid but -- possibly justified by a claim of accuracy to those details of life that -- I feel -- need not be spread out on the printed page. It purports to be fiction, but has all the earmarks of autobiography, if slightly fiotionized in form, possibly a composite picture of adventures of several of the author's associates. It is a book that would give nightmares to the parents of boys at the front; and that assuredly no man in the service would care to read, as it would simply prolong the agonies he would like to escape. The intent of the book would have been sharpened by judicious blue-pencilling. But its impress is undeniable -- though harrowing.

Publisher: Dodd, Mead