Eye-Deep in Hell: Trench Warfare in World War I - John Ellis 1976 Pantheon Books Hardback

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Blurb: “Eye-Deep in Hell is a masterfully detailed reconstruction of what life was like for millions of men who lived and died in the trenches of World War 1. Continuing his trail-blazing approach to the study of war and militarism, Ellis reveals the physical and spiritual environment of this unique world, the rituals of battle, the habits of daily life, and the constant struggle of men to find meaning in a world of excruciating boredom and impending death.

Ellis begins with a description of the physical construction of the trenches, their size and shape, their peculiarities and char-acteristics. The soldiers' daily life is succinctly portrayed: how they ate, drank, slept, joked, fought off rats and lice, how their sexual needs were met, and how they endured the marches and patrols. But it is in the ways men sought meaning in their daily lives that Ellis reveals the true nature of warfare. In analyzing how the habits and regulations so dear to the military mind became entrenched in the organization of the battlefield, Eye-Deep in Hell brilliantly depicts the instinctive desire of men in battle to create order out of chaos. Through an exploration of the personal reflections of soldiers and the letters they wrote home, Ellis discovers a literature of compassion, courage, and a capacity to endure which arose from an environment of filth, decay, and death. It captures a world in which men fought, for reasons they hardly understood, for a future most had ceased to believe in by the end of the war.”