Covenant with Death
Covenant with Death is proclaimed by many as one of the best books about war ever written. World War I, also called the Great War, was intended as the war that would end all wars. But that wasn't what the First World War did. On the contrary, it was a massacre. More than one million people died during the battle of the Somme, and without a clear winner.
John Harris Covenant with Death tells the story of one particular battalion of volunteers during the naive war optimism in 1914, until its ultimate destruction during the first hostilities at the Somme. An anti-war novel that is often compared to All Quiet on the Western Front by German Erich Maria Remarque.
Stirringly told from the view of everyday soldiers, Covenant with Death is acclaimed as one of the greatest novels about war ever written. With a new foreword by Louis de Bernières, author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
They joined for their country. They fought for each other.
When war breaks out in 1914, Mark Fenner and his Sheffield friends immediately flock to Kitchener's call. Amid waving flags and boozy celebration, the three men - Fen, his best friend Locky and self-assured Frank, rival for the woman Fen loves - enlist as volunteers to take on the Germans and win glory.
Through ramshackle training in sodden England and a stint in arid Egypt, rebellious but brave Fen proves himself to be a natural leader, only undermined by on-going friction with Frank. Headed by terse, tough Sergeant Major Bold, this group of young men form steel-strong bonds, and yearn to face the great adventure of the Western Front.
Then, on one summer's day in 1916, Fen and his band of brothers are sent to the Somme, and this very ordinary hero discovers what it means to fight for your life.
'Laden with knowledge yet sparely written, Covenant with Death is the work of an author immersed in the lives of those who fought'
'The last line ought to be carved in stone somewhere . . . Find it. Read it. You'll be a better person for having done so'
Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail
An anti-war book right up there with Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front
Shortlist (The Greatest War Novels of all Time)
'Covenant With Death . . . showed with unbearable actuality what happened to a newly formed Sheffield regiment on the first day of the battle of the Somme'
Christopher Hitchens, Guardian
'The blood and guts, the nightmare stink of cordite . . . appalling realism'
'Only one novel about the war since 1945 has the power and feeling of veracity to compare with the works of the 1920s and 30s . . . Covenant with Death by John Harris'
The Western Front Organisation
'A superb novel'
'John Harris's neglected masterpiece of a novel, Covenant With Death, is the success that it is because it follows a group of Sheffield workers from their flag-waving sign-up to the hecatomb on the Somme'
'True and terrible'
'An outstanding achievement'