Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925

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9780006357032: Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925

Now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Hayley Atwell, and Taron Egerton
 
In 1915 Vera Brittain abandoned her studies at Oxford to enlist as a nurse in the armed forces, serving in London, in Malta, and at the Western Front in France. By war’s end, all those closest to her were dead, and she had witnessed firsthand the destruction and suffering of modern combat.

Much of what we know and feel about the First World War we owe to Brittain’s Testament of Youth. In this elegiac yet unsparing memoir, Brittain focused on the men and women who came of age as war broke out, exploring their politics, their hopes, and their fatal idealism. Acclaimed by the Times Literary Supplement as a book that helped “both form and define the mood of its time,” this searing portrait is also a testament to every generation irrevocably changed by war.

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Review:

When war broke out in August 1914, 21-year-old Vera Brittain was planning on enrolling at Somerville College, Oxford. Her father told her she wouldn't be able to go: "In a few months' time we should probably all find ourselves in the Workhouse!" he opined. Brittain had hoped to escape the Northern provinces, but the war seemingly dashed her plans. "It is not, perhaps, so very surprising that the War at first seemed to me an infuriating personal interruption rather than a world-wide catastrophe."

Her father eventually relented, however, and she was allowed to attend. By the end of her first year, she had fallen in love with a young soldier and resolved to become active in the war effort by volunteering as a nurse--turning her back on what she called her "provincial young-ladyhood." Brittain suffered through 12-hour days by reminding herself that nothing she endured was worse than what her fiancé, Roland, experienced in the trenches. Roland was expected home on leave for Christmas 1915; on December 26, Brittain received news that he had been killed at the front. Ten months later Brittain herself was sent to Malta and then to France to serve in the hospitals nearer the front, where she witnessed firsthand the horrors of battle. When peace finally came, Brittain had also lost her brother Edward and two close friends. As she walked the streets of London on November 11, 1918--Armistice Day--she felt alone in the crowds:

For the first time I realised, with all that full realisation meant, how completely everything that had hitherto made up my life had vanished with Edward and Roland, with Victor and Geoffrey. The War was over; a new age was beginning; but the dead were dead and would never return.

First published in 1933, Testament of Youth established Brittain as one of the best-loved authors of her time. Her crisp, clear prose and searing honesty make this unsentimental memoir of a generation scarred by war a classic. --Sunny Delaney

About the Author:

Vera Brittain (1893–1970) served as a nurse in the British armed forces in World War I and afterward devoted herself to the causes of peace and feminism. She wrote twenty-nine books, of which Testament of Youth is the best-known.

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Vera Brittain
Published by HarperCollins Distribution Services (1979)
ISBN 10: 0006357032 ISBN 13: 9780006357032
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
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(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
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Book Description HarperCollins Distribution Services, 1979. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0006357032

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