Courage, Mon Amie

Selected as a 2003 Book of the Year by the NEW STATESMAN
London Review of Books/Profile Books, 2002
Order from the publisher, London Review of Books/Profile Books, or go to Terry Castle’s Page on Amazon.com.

(From the Dustjacket)

“Terry Castle’s great-uncle, Rifleman Lewis Newton Braddock, died in the First World War. In Courage, Mon Amie, she describes a long-contemplated trip to the Western Front on a ‘modest, conventional and somewhat anorakish’ quest to locate her great-uncle’s grave. She explores her own ‘grim and spinsterish’ war fixation, tracing her obsession as it developed from childhood: ‘I became an armchair expert on Lewis guns and enfilade fire, shrapnel and mortars, wiring parties, trench raids and listening posts…. It seemed at the time, I realized, an odd obsession for a girl. But it seemed to go along with various other un-girlish things about me: my vast bebop collection and dislike of skirts.’”

(Reviewers’ comments)

“In Courage, Mon Amie (London Review of Books), Terry Castle goes on a ‘grim and spinsterish’ (but highly enjoyable) search for the grave of her great-uncle, who died in the Great War on the Western Front. She reflects on ‘the insane, uncomplaining, relentless bravery of men’ and asks where the female variety of courage fits in. It is a quirky, personal, thought-provoking book, and quite unlike anything else you will have read about war.” –Hilary Mantel, The New Statesman

“If you find WWI compelling, or wonder why anyone would find it compelling, then I heartily recommend Terry Castle’s Courage, mon amie from the London Review of Books (4th April 2002)….Ut is one of the best pieces of criticism/analysis/reportage/travel writing on WWI I have ever read, and if you are remotely interested in the Great War is well worth the price.”– Juxtabook

A “witty journey”–Hew Strachan, Times Literary Supplement

“Some may conclude that to speak personally and academically at once may escape the frying pan of self-indulgence only to fall into the fire of defensiveness, swapping confession for apologia….  Jane Tompkin’s mortified confession that her students turned out not to adore her after all is certainly one of the most daring analyses of pedagogy I have ever read.  And who wouldn’t be intrigued by Renaissance scholar Jonathan Dollimore’s (2001) ‘depressive’s diary’ or Terry Castle’s (2002) travelogue of First World War graveyards as a butch dyke fascinated by men’s courage?  What all these wonderful experiments in self-analysis have in common–why they work–is that they are written elegantly and bravely enough to be ambiguous, even when at their most personal.”– Margaretta Jolly, Feminist Studies

“This is a gem of a book, an American academic’s search for a relative who died in the British Army on the Western Front in the Great War.  Terry Castle’s piece originally appeared in the London Review of Books. It is very much in the mould of Geoff Dyer’s ‘Missing of the Somme’, blending autobiography with the gradual discovery of one of the stories of the 1914-1918 conflict.

If you enjoyed Dyer’s book, or ‘Trench Fever’, you will enjoy this. Castle is a vivid writer, very candid about her own life, and she provides an interestingly alternative perspective on the legacy of this terrible war.—Amazon.com