The General is a 1936 novel authored by writer C. S. Forester. Known for his Horatio Hornblower novels and 1935's The African Queen, Forester attempted in the work to portray the then recently finished conflict of World War I in a decidedly realistic though still narrative-based and compelling fashion. The book centres on the titular general and portrays, among other things, the British efforts to deal with the dilemma of trench warfare.In terms of plot, The General follows the career of a professional soldier, Herbert Curzon, from his service as a junior officer in the Second Boer War through his experiences as a senior commander in the aforementioned First World War. While personally courageous and dedicated, Curzon is otherwise unexceptional: he serves as an officer like many others. The stalemate of the conflict irritates him as he receives greater and greater promotion yet finds himself ordering great numbers of regular soldiers to their deaths. Though surviving when many do not and displaying an honorable sense of individual character, Curzon finally determines his willingness to sacrifice his life during the fateful offensive of the Central powers enacted in 1918. While without truly great fault, it is Curzon's lack of true psychological foresight and unimaginative nature that appears to define him given the inanity of the war.Reviewers have lauded the work over multiple decades. Commentators have particular cited the ordinariness of Forester's character, which as a story element serves to give the novel power. Examples of more recent praise includes the writings of historian Max Hastings.
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