A man who profits from the on-line sale of a Great War victory medal experiences supernatural phenomena that gives him a horrific insight into the true value of the medal, and of life.
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The Known Soldier
A long-held interest in the First World War drew me naturally towards Wood's 'The Known Soldier' but an engaging storyline and well-constructed prose held me entranced. Set in the context of a modern undergraduate's life with its academic deadlines and economic constraints, the story centres around the sale of a WW1 victory medal to finance the purchase of a high-spec laptop. The main character Tom's euphoria at making a killing on-line is short-lived being quickly replaced by a disturbing journey through which he is forced to consider issues of individual morality, responsibility and sacrifice.
Making a killing on-line through the sale of a WW1 medal takes Tom on a disturbing journey forcing him to appreciate the true value of the medal.
The historian in me was reassured to find the story is based on a real-life soldier of the Great War, Robert Lane who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Indeed for those who may be interested, the story offers incidental insight into how to undertake historical research into individuals who were engaged in the war. Yet this is an ultimately accessible, historically-based fiction which for me successfully juxtaposes the apparent triviality of modern life for an undergraduate History student with the experience of a soldier in WW1 of a similar age. An important and insightful read as we enter the centenary of the First World War.