Articles of War: A Novel

Articles of War: A Novel

by Nick Arvin, J. D. Cullum
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Overview

Articles of War: A Novel by Nick Arvin, J. D. Cullum


The terrors of a young soldier come to life in shocking, almost hallucinatory detail in a powerful first novel that follows in the footsteps of The Red Badge of Courage and Farewell to Arms.

"The boy they called Heck arrived at Omaha Beach in August 1944. Soon he would be sent to the front..." George Tilson, an 18-year-old Iowa farm boy, is nicknamed Heck because he won't curse. Other than that, he's a typical soldier, willing to do his duty without much fuss or musing about grand goals.

During his first horrific exposure to combat, Heck discovers a dark truth about himself: He is a coward. Shamed by his fear and tortured by the never-ending physical dangers around him, he struggles to survive, to live up to the ideal of the American fighting man, and to make sense of his feelings for a young French refugee. As the stark reality of combat—and the knowledge that he could cease to exist at any moment&mdashpresses in on him, he makes a series of choices that would be rational in every human situation except war.

Writing with remorseless clarity in a starkly minimalist style, Arvin draws you into the unimaginable fear, violence, and chaos of the war zone&mdashand creates one of the most disturbing and unforgettable accounts of a soldier's life ever written.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565119475
Publisher: HighBridge Company
Publication date: 02/28/2005
Edition description: Unabridged, 4 cassettes, 6 hours
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 4.58(w) x 1.25(h) x 7.18(d)

About the Author


J. D. CULLUM has appeared in over 40 plays both on and Off-Broady. TV and film work include 24, Frasier, Judging Amy, MYPD Blue and the HBO film *61.

NICK ARVIN is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a recipient of the Michener Fellowship, and the author of In the Electric Eden, a collection of short stories. He lives in Denver, Colorado, where he works as a forensic engineer.

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NOT worth the hype. Don't let the glowing reviews fool you - this book is wholly unsatisfying. The prose is disjointed, and the conclusion is so abrupt and incomplete that it ruins the entire thing. Do not waste your money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you have been to war or you have wondered about the experience, this novel transports the reader to such a time and place through direct and unflinching prose. The main character's voice is the human quality each soldier brings to war. A reminder of the contributions individuals. And, a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down until I finished the last page... Very amazing. You can feel what the main character is feeling. Everyone should have to read this book...
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ARTICLES OF WAR Nick Arvin has, in this first Novel (he has previously published short stories under the name of 'In the Electric Eden: Stories') stepped into the echelon of writers who are able to credibly recreate the horrors of war without finding the need to justify the concept of war as a viable means for resolution of issues. This is an exceptional novel that relentlessly defines the passion, the fear, the atrocities, the visceral responses to the annihilation of fellow human beings, and places those responses squarely in the body of one terrified eighteen-year-old boy. The effect is devastating and the result is one of the most vehement antiwar novels ever written.George Tilson, nicknamed 'Heck' because of his refusal to use profanity, is a simple Iowa boy who by draft enlists in the Army to please his newspaper publisher father. He has no political fervor, no adolescent need to prove his virility: Heck simply knows how to follow orders, place training camp in the role of playacting, and accept his shipment to Omaha Beach, Normandy in 1944. A loner by nature, Heck observes his environment, is shipped to various campaigns, and remains a passive severely frightened youth. Once he is in battle he is horrified by the killing, the strewn dead bodies, witnessing the implosion of a recruit from a land mine, the stinging deaths of fellow soldiers, the look in the eyes of dead Germans, discovering the bodies of French victims, inadvertently sludging through corpses, the decimation of the landscape, the filth of living in rain-gutted foxholes. At one point he encounters a French family who befriends him and he is shown kindness by the young Claire with whom he finds momentary solace in the caves of France, becoming tangent to his emerging sexuality yet fearful of fulfilling his desires. The little family disappears and his quests to find them again are useless. His encounter with Claire and her gift of a tiny silver music box are his constant attachments to hope, to the concept that he may survive to find Claire again. The war eats Heck's soul and mind and eventually he follows the urge to find a way out of the battlefield by arranging his own gunshot wound to the wrist inflicted by a German sniper. This act of cowardice joined by his inability to find justice in the idea of war weakens Heck to the point that he is unable to eat without vomiting, and unable to hide from his shame of being a coward. Heck begins to harden after a certain incident and when he is assigned to a secret mission, he consents to go. The mission is to be a part of the firing squad that will execute deserter Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik, a mission that will forever haunt young Heck. (This incident is based on fact, as the author informs us at the beginning and end of the book.)How Heck deals with all these inward damages inflicted upon him by the war forms the final chapters of this intense book. The war ends and Heck is so incapacitated by his guilt that he signs up for another tour of duty in France and it is during this tour that the unsettling events of the post-war effects take on significant meaning and draw an end to the story.Nick Arvin writes in spare sentences, much the way his main character would process information. But that is not to say that Arvin cannot wax eloquent or burn images into our minds that become as indelible as the effects of the war on Heck. 'Heck began to understand that this was hell: a rainy woods, a place of mud and standing water and deep cold, made complete by the explosions that forced you to burrow into the muck and lie in it and be glad for it....The damaged trees were stricken, ossified. When it rained the trees dripped, providing no protection. A fog was trapped or confused in the forest and dwelled there all day, at its thickest creating a white darkness. The mists seem to absorb the night, and eventually night reconquered the mists, and in this fashion the idea of sunlight was erased.'As poetic as the writing just quoted
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ARTICLES OF WAR Nick Arvin has, in this first Novel (he has previously published short stories under the name of 'In the Electric Eden: Stories') stepped into the echelon of writers who are able to credibly recreate the horrors of war without finding the need to justify the concept of war as a viable means for resolution of issues. This is an exceptional novel that relentlessly defines the passion, the fear, the atrocities, the visceral responses to the annihilation of fellow human beings, and places those responses squarely in the body of one terrified eighteen-year-old boy. The effect is devastating and the result is one of the most vehement antiwar novels ever written. George Tilson, nicknamed 'Heck' because of his refusal to use profanity, is a simple Iowa boy who by draft enlists in the Army to please his newspaper publisher father. He has no political fervor, no adolescent need to prove his virility: Heck simply knows how to follow orders, place training camp in the role of playacting, and accept his shipment to Omaha Beach, Normandy in 1944. A loner by nature, Heck observes his environment, is shipped to various campaigns, and remains a passive severely frightened youth. Once he is in battle he is horrified by the killing, the strewn dead bodies, witnessing the implosion of a recruit from a land mine, the stinging deaths of fellow soldiers, the look in the eyes of dead Germans, discovering the bodies of French victims, inadvertently sludging through corpses, the decimation of the landscape, the filth of living in rain-gutted foxholes. At one point he encounters a French family who befriends him and he is shown kindness by the young Claire with whom he finds momentary solace in the caves of France, becoming tangent to his emerging sexuality yet fearful of fulfilling his desires. The little family disappears and his quests to find them again are useless. His encounter with Claire and her gift of a tiny silver music box are his constant attachments to hope, to the concept that he may survive to find Claire again. The war eats Heck's soul and mind and eventually he follows the urge to find a way out of the battlefield by arranging his own gunshot wound to the wrist inflicted by a German sniper. This act of cowardice joined by his inability to find justice in the idea of war weakens Heck to the point that he is unable to eat without vomiting, and unable to hide from his shame of being a coward. Heck begins to harden after a certain incident and when he is assigned to a secret mission, he consents to go. The mission is to be a part of the firing squad that will execute deserter Pvt. Eddie D. Slovik, a mission that will forever haunt young Heck. (This incident is based on fact, as the author informs us at the beginning and end of the book.) How Heck deals with all these inward damages inflicted upon him by the war forms the final chapters of this intense book. The war ends and Heck is so incapacitated by his guilt that he signs up for another tour of duty in France and it is during this tour that the unsettling events of the post-war effects take on significant meaning and draw an end to the story. Nick Arvin writes in spare sentences, much the way his main character would process information. But that is not to say that Arvin cannot wax eloquent or burn images into our minds that become as indelible as the effects of the war on Heck. 'Heck began to understand that this was hell: a rainy woods, a place of mud and standing water and deep cold, made complete by the explosions that forced you to burrow into the muck and lie in it and be glad for it....The damaged trees were stricken, ossified. When it rained the trees dripped, providing no protection. A fog was trapped or confused in the forest and dwelled there all day, at its thickest creating a white darkness. The mists seem to absorb the night, and eventually night reconquered the mists, and in this fashion the idea of sunlight was erased.' As poetic as the