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Someone was pulling at the flagpole, making the flag shiver and dance, warning the rest of the platoon to keep their heads down. Breen could see blood on the trousers of Tiger’s battledress.
After Corporal Daniel Cousins dies during routine training in England, a young officer, Lieutenant Patrick Breen, becomes obsessed. Was it an accident, or was Cousins murdered by one of his own?
Breen’s investigation, as well as his unanticipated love affair with a superior officer, threatens the unity of his comrades in the New Zealand Division as they wait for the suffering to come in the Battle for Crete—one of the defining conflicts of the Second World War.
Soldiers is about what happens to men who go to war: about the psychological as well as the physical toll. Tom Remiger’s compelling first novel tells a story of intense feeling and unforeseen experience in a strange and distant world.
‘This surely is among those best books about war by a writer who did not take part in one. Soldiers’ account of a small group of men from the remotest edge of Empire who served in the New Zealand Division’s failed invasion of the Greek mainland, and then Crete, early in the Second World War, strikes me at once as a stunningly impressive and important novel. The writing is direct and vivid, it is superbly researched, and the story deeply understands the men it depicts. It is remarkable, in a narrative so accurately representing ordinary men during the worst part of their experience, that it also so sympathetically portrays the usually hushed-up realities of homosexuality, cowardice, and paranoia. I love the book’s confidence and humanity, and the scale of what it takes on.’
‘Remiger’s book is without parallel in recent New Zealand literature. It is a fine and visceral novel.’