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The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

BOOK REVIEW – of books you should know about but may never read!


It was not the fashion in the 19th century to write books about the realities of mass warfare. But in 1895 a book was published which did exactly that. The writer, in two days of fighting as a raw Union recruit, takes us through the dream of heroism, through the discovery of his own mortal fear of danger and death, to atonement through his ‘red badge,’ delivered, ironically, by one of his fellow soldiers, which signifies his initiation to the world of courage and manhood.


Born in New Jersey, the writer, Stephen Crane settled in England and died of tuberculosis aged 29. The book became a best seller and to the amazement of readers who had experienced the passion and reality of the psychology, it was realised that this young writer had never seen combat anywhere let alone the Civil War. He had drawn only on reading and enormous imaginative power and genius as a writer to make The Red Badge of Courage one of the greatest novels written about war and its psychological effects.

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