28 February 2012

Freedom to Read Week: Generals Die in Bed (I)

The Ottawa Citizen, 30 May 1930
NEW YORK. May 30. Charles Yale Harrison, youthful author of the book "Generals Die in Bed," is surprised at the storm which followed publication of the book in London. Mr. Harrison, who served with the 14th Battalion Royal Montreal regiment in France and Belgium in 1917 and 1917 [sic], thinks the critics who have held his book slandered Canadian troops are unjustified. The author is on the staff of the New York newspaper, Bronx Home News, in the capacity as he himself puts it of a "newspaperman, not a journalist."
He told the Canadian Press today he was surprised at reports that his book might be banned in Canada. It will be published here in June and arrangements had been made for publication in the Dominion.
"For me to sneer at the fighting qualities of the Canadian soldier would be to sneer at myself," he said. "I want it distinctly understood that the Canadian Expeditionary Force was the best fighting unit in the field. Vimy Ridge, Ypres, the Somme, Cambrai and Mons speak for themselves."

War in Real Light.
Referring to criticism that the book showed Canadian soldiers in an untrue light morally. Harrison held he tried to picture war "as it really happened not as some spinster ladies thought it should happen. War is dirty, disgusting and the sooner the world realizes that modern warfare is a demoralizing business the better it will be for the world."
Harrison has been criticized for stating Canadian troops looted Arras. He maintained he is correct in this but stated that "realizing the circumstances under which the town was looted. I did not consider that this in any way reflected upon the heroism and courage of the Canadian troops."
His attention was called to an editorial in which the London Daily Mail terms the book "slanderous."
"It is," Harrison said, "but it does not slander the troops of the C.E.F. It slanders war – and it is about time that a little of false glory with which war is enmeshed is torn away."
Harrison, who managed a Montreal motion picture theater following his return from France, says he works on a small paper because he finds it gives him leisure for writing.

1 comment:

  1. A book well worth reading, especially considering our government's unseemly willingness to commit troops to war these days. Unlike Acland’s All Else is Folly, this book is still in print although primarily in versions aimed at the ‘young adult’ audience.