Night and the City (1938) made Gerald Kersh's reputation, but it was as a war novelist that he reached a wide readership in 1942, via a pair of books about British army recruits, led by Sergeant Bill Nelson, preparing to see service in France. This Faber Finds edition collects both books.
'[They Die With Their Boots Clean] is a picture of life in the raw in the Coldstream Guards, with all its
rigorous discipline, its humour and comradeship.' TLS
[In The Nine Lives Of Bill Nelson] the conversations are terse, ferociously slangy, full of hyperbole and outrageous wit, often irresistibly funny.' TLS
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About the Author
Gerald Kersh was born in Teddington on August 26 1911. He quit schooling early, and took a succession of jobs while developing his ambition to write. In 1934 he published a roman a clef, Jews without Jehovah, immediately suppressed by members of his family who took exception to its contents. Following the outbreak of war Kersh joined the Coldstream Guards in 1940. The following year he drew on his Guardsman experience to write the bestselling They Die with their Boots Clean, a classic fictional account of basic training. A sequel followed, The Nine Lives of Bill Nelson, and the pair would be re-published together as Sergeant Nelson of the Guards.
Thereafter Kersh was hugely productive: a writer not merely of novels(such as The Song Of The Flea in 1948 and The Thousand Deaths Of Mr Small in 1950) but also stories, journalism, sketches and columns, radio and documentary film scripts. His stories are collected in volumes including The Horrible Dummy and Other Stories and The Best of Gerald Kersh. His success was tempered by troubles over money, health and personal affairs, but through this turmoil he wrote some of his best novels: Fowler's End (1958), The Implacable Hunter (1961) and The Angel and the Cuckoo (1966). He died in New York on 5th November 1968, aged 57.