The General

The General Herbert Curzon is a former cavalry officer who earned fortuitous distinction in the Boer War He knew little then he learned nothing since But the army desperate for officers in the opening months of

  • Title: The General
  • Author: C.S. Forester
  • ISBN: 9781877853395
  • Page: 130
  • Format: Paperback
  • Herbert Curzon is a former cavalry officer who earned fortuitous distinction in the Boer War He knew little then he learned nothing since But the army, desperate for officers in the opening months of WW I, hands Curzon, a new division to train A few months later his formations dissolve at the Somme, hosed down by German machine guns Uninstructed, Curzon still thinks hHerbert Curzon is a former cavalry officer who earned fortuitous distinction in the Boer War He knew little then he learned nothing since But the army, desperate for officers in the opening months of WW I, hands Curzon, a new division to train A few months later his formations dissolve at the Somme, hosed down by German machine guns Uninstructed, Curzon still thinks himself a leader When a German offensive threatens his remaining troops, he gallops suicidally into the fighting He prefers death to self knowledge THE GENERAL is a superb novel It blends Forester s preference for military subjects and solid unreflective characters, his irony, his grasp of history and his gift for lean, hypnotic narrative The New York Times

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    1 thought on “The General”

    1. Forester created quite a sympathetic character in The General. Can you sympathize with someone who gets a lot of people killed?Herbert Curzon is a Major in the British army when WWI breaks out. He is very average. I mean, there's nothing special about him to the point that it makes him special. You want him to succeed, because jesus christ, get it together man! However, that may never happen, because as sad as it sounds, the fact of the matter is, Curzon is unaware he's surpassed his sell-by dat [...]

    2. If you’ve spent more than a little while in the military, you’ve probably met Forester’s protagonist, Herbert Curzon, at least once. Courageous, athletic, honorable and intensely loyal to the values and system that define his life, Curzon is also utterly, thoroughly and profoundly unimaginative, a knee-jerk reactionary, intellectually incurious and unable to learn from his subordinates, or even to conceive of the possibility that he could do so. After a brief and accidental brush with glor [...]

    3. An extremely well-written book, albeit a depressing one. It follows the story of a fictitious British general, Herbert Curzon, from the beginning of his career in the Boer War, through his rise in rank and position during WWI. His rise is very much by chance and over the bodies of his troops. It tells a dire story of WWI in a matter-of-fact way, very much like Forester's story of The Ship, which follows a British convoy during WWII. I have enjoyed a great deal of Forester's stories, especially h [...]

    4. The General (1936) is virtually a biography of a fictional Army officer. It begins with Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Curzon, KCMG, CB, DSO being wheeled in his bath-chair along Bournemouth’s promenade. Local opinion in Bournemouth ‘is inclined to give Sir Herbert more credit than he has really earned, although perhaps not more than he deserves.’ That ambivalent, cryptic observation then leads into a flashback that covers almost the entire book.The ‘virtual biography’ stems from the s [...]

    5. It's good, on the centennial of World War I (the Battle of the Somme started July 1, 1916) to reflect on the carnage, to ponder how the British lost -- threw away -- a generation of young men on futile trench warfare. C.S. Forester's book, one of his non-Hornblower masterpieces, is one way to understand the times and the mindset. His title, fictional character, Gen. Herbert Curzon, exemplifies a generation of British generals, too rigid and unimaginative to adapt to a new war and contributing th [...]

    6. This is a truly interesting study in fictional format of the "Leadership Mentality" that was embedded within the British High Command during World War I. Well worth reading, Forester has captured with a strong sense of culture, attitudes, education and the impact of "Empire," the multiple forces and influences that produced the British Military Leadership leading to such horrific Battles as the Somme in July 1, 1916 and Passchendaele July 11, 1917. Beautifully written, "The General" is considere [...]

    7. Simply put. Superb. I read the Hornblower series, and collect them, so i thought I'd start on the rest. Wasn't keen on Payment Deferred. But this is excellent. Stood he test of time, and in this centenary year of the First World War, should be read.I wonder with hindsight whether Forester realised he'd missed a trick in not writing a series about Curzon, and that led him to Hornblower. In comparison to Hornblower though, The General is a very serious and worthy novel.

    8. About halfway through this book right now. The story is compelling, and the insight into the life of a British Military Officer around WWI is helping me to better understand how the war became what it did.

    9. I'd read that Gen. Kelly, Trump's chief of staff. reads this book every year, or every time he starts a new assignment so, being familiar with Forester from his Hornblower novels I was curious about this novel, not being familiar with it. I was not disappointed. I love Forester as a writer (he's not be confused with E.M. Forester, author of Room with a View, Passage to India and Howards End, among others). CS Forester's writing is economical but descriptive, easily readable and wry. Some conside [...]

    10. I'm a long-time Hornblower fan, so even if the version of WW1 leadership to which Forester subscribed has been revised, it is still an insightful psychological study of a particular time of military personality. I probably need to spend much more time on the historiography of the Douglas Haig debate to really have an opinion; but from an Australian perspective it's worth recalling that Monash – allegedly the best of the Allied Army commanders – was only average as a brigade commander and the [...]

    11. A withering indictment of the senior generals and staff officer 'donkeys' who led the junior officers and enlisted 'lions' of the first World War. Easy to read and hard to put down. I think it is an important book and one that should be mandatory reading by all diplomats as well as soldiers. To mangle a cliche, it is a literary train wreck -- no matter how hard you try, you can't look away. You know what is going to happen and you are helpless to stop it. I read Forester's Hornblower series as a [...]

    12. General Ray Kelly rereads this book everytime he takes on a new position because of the many lessons it has within. If one wants to see how arrogance, politics, and an inflated sense of self can cause military leadership to sacrifice the lives of the soldiers they lead in WWI. It was as if the troops were no more than cattle going to slaughter then read this book. Combine this with an inability to recognize that tanks and machine guns will change the nature of warfare and you wonder how the Brit [...]

    13. Forester breaks a lot of narrative rules, by telling instead of showing, but this tale of failure is still very compelling. The overall story is of a General who, despite his own bravery and dedication, causes innumerable tragedy due to hardheadedness, unimaginative attritionist thought, and the inability to adapt. Beyond that, it explores a class system in its death throes, an exploration that without his didactic exposition would have flew over my head.

    14. I had to read it two time to understand what it was about. I had read the Hornblower books before and I was expecting some simple war novel, this time in the WWI that is not so popular topic in war novels. But The General is much more than it and it makes it quite a sad and gloomy book, especially looking back to the beginning of the novel (the nice walk in the city, respected by the citizens.)

    15. I include this with Once An Eagle as the finest writing on the military mind I have encountered. It provides a powerful perspective on the military sciences that produced the war to end all wars, at least on the British side.

    16. Not really a likeable character but there were probably a lot of them out there at that time. Interesting insights into First World War.

    17. * * * 1/2 (rounded up)I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Of course I was favourably disposed to it from the outset because it was recommended to me by a co-worker who has often given me good recommendations, but I was certainly not expecting to love the dry-witted narration so much. The only reason it took me so long to read was that I had to keep stopping to write down amusing quotes, such as:"A complete record in detail of those twelve years would need twelve years in the telling [...]

    18. Unsettlingly, this is a war story written before the second world war. Forester did not know for a fact there'd be a war but somehow this novel anticipates it. Of course its about The Great War, the war to end all wars, the 1914-1918 war. But the mishaps and the misdeeds and the sheer wrong-headedness of the generalship still holds good. This book's about one of those generals - a fictional general who might have been one of the better ones but still a fool.It's a beautiful drawn portrait and th [...]

    19. The General around whom C.S. Forester anchors his tale of deadly incompetence and stupidity is called Herbert Curzon in the novel. He is patriotic, stoic, committed to the idea of England (possibly among those who prefer to "Rule, Britania" to "Land of Hope and Glory"), with unquestionable personal courage, coupled with an inflexible view of how war must be conducted, an utter lack of empathy with those he commands and no knowledge of how human beings think and feel. Curzon is emblematic of the [...]

    20. Originally published on my blog here in February 1999.Forester's early novel is a succinctly told story of a fiction First World War general, Sir Herbert Curzon, from his days as a young officer in the Boer War to an ageing, bathchair-bound figure on Bournemouth Promenade.Forester does not allow himself a great deal of space to develop his story, under two hundred pages in fact, so we are left with a fairly sketchy view of Curzon's life and character. His story concentrates on the Great War, and [...]

    21. C.S Forester is probably best known for the scourge of the Napoleon high seas Horatio Hornblower, and this is reputed to be one of his best novels, but I'm not convinced.Hornblower is a warm, rounded character with passion and (very probably) tight breeches - General Curzon is a two dimensional, cold fish which makes it very difficult to care particularly what he does or thinks.WhilstThe General is a scathing indictment on the Military leadership during World War One, it's actually more amusing [...]

    22. At this sobering time, when we are gathering to remember the cruel folly of the First World War, and the outstanding bravery of the men and women who fought in it, this is a most timely read. Curzon, a product of the army's refusal to understand the modern world, rises to and beyond the level of his antiquated world view, ultimately with devastating results for his country, his men, and himself. He and his colleagues fight a war with courage and determination; never realising once that these qua [...]

    23. Three books I am currently reading in memorial of WW1. Yes, I know there are 2 copies of 'The General', and yes, I intend to read them both, one after the other. It has one of my favourite analogies about the trenches, that the generals of the Western Front were trying to pull out a screw by tugging it rather than by looking for a screwdriver (or something like that). And Graves's 'Goodbye to all that' is memorable for so much, especially as it is all true. Like how the machine gunners would rem [...]

    24. Love this book. The best depiction of the mindset of those who led Britain into disaster in WWI I've ever read. Forester's depiction of General Curzon is subtle and moving; he embodies so much of value in the ideal of the English gentleman--brave, disciplined, scrupulously honest, honorable-- but his limitations make him utterly unable to comprehend or respond to the horrifying realities of trench warfare. And the misery caused by such honourable gentlemen as he has been incalculable. This chara [...]

    25. In some respects this is a very unusual novel. It's form and writing is very much of its time. Indeed the way in which The main protagonist is described is typical of books of the period. The book's novelty is in its subject matter, a war story that features a staff officer. Not a daring-do staff officer, but an ordinary man with fairly ordinary talents in unusual circumstances. Curzon is human, he is no donkey. This is subtle and supple writing.The edition I read had an excellent introduction b [...]

    26. I hadn't stumbled across this volume by the author of the Hornblower series; it's briefer, and, I daresay, brisker than any of the Hornblower novels. It's a worthy read, if only because it humanizes the challenges faced by the British Army in WWI, but it's rather more straightforward a read than his later work.

    27. laconic novel about an old school army officer who sends tens of thousands of men to their death in WWI France, fighting the traditional way in search of glory for self and England. The insanity of a war where no one worried about casualties, just about inaction.

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