Siegfried Sassoon by John Stuart Roberts
Siegfried Sassoon is the greatest and most famous of all British war poets. Established as a writer of some merit before the Great War broke out, his near-suicidal acts of courage and defiance in the face of enemy fire earned him the Military Cross - and the nickname 'Mad Jack'. However, as the war dragged on, he came to see it as a cynical exercise, leading him to write an anti-war letter to The Times and to tear the ribbon of his MC Cross from his tunic and throw it into the River Mersey. Alarmed authorities sent him to a hospital for the shell shocked, where he befriended a young officer of the Manchester Regiment named Wilfred Owen. Although Sassoon returned to active service, his hatred for the war remained, and by the Armstice in 1918 he had declared himself a pacifist. Written with a clarity and directness that would have pleased the great man himself, John Stuart Roberts's widely praised biography is a gripping and accessible account of a man of deep contradictions. War hero, pacifist, towering literary figure unaligned to any movement; this biography looks beyond the common perception of Sassoon as a mere soldier poet, and looks at the man in full. It is a book that any admirer of Sassoon will cherish.