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Covenant with Death

John Harris

8 Reviews

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Fiction, First World War fiction

Discover one of the most authentic, moving and gripping portrayals of British soldiers ever written. This classic novel of the First World War appears in a new edition for the centenary of the conflict.

They joined for their country. They fought for each other.

When war breaks out in 1914, Mark Fenner and his Sheffield friends immediately flock to Kitchener's call. Amid waving flags and boozy celebration, the three men - Fen, his best friend Locky and self-assured Frank, rival for the woman Fen loves - enlist as volunteers to take on the Germans and win glory.

Through ramshackle training in sodden England and a stint in arid Egypt, rebellious but brave Fen proves himself to be a natural leader, only undermined by on-going friction with Frank. Headed by terse, tough Sergeant Major Bold, this group of young men form steel-strong bonds, and yearn to face the great adventure of the Western Front.

Then, on one summer's day in 1916, Fen and his band of brothers are sent to the Somme, and this very ordinary hero discovers what it means to fight for your life.

Stirringly told from the down-to-earth view of everyday soldiers, COVENANT WITH DEATH is acclaimed as one of the greatest novels about war ever written. Now with a new foreword by Louis de Bernieres, author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

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Praise for Covenant with Death

  • The last line 'Two years in the making. Ten minutes in the destroying. That was our history', ought to be carved in stone somewhere . . . Find it. Read it. You'll be a better person for having done so - Daily Mail

  • An anti-war book right up there with Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front - Shortlist

  • Covenant With Death . . . showed with unbearable actuality what happened to a newly formed Sheffield regiment on the first day of the battle of the Somme - Guardian

  • John Harris's neglected masterpiece of a novel, Covenant With Death, is the success that it is because it follows a group of Sheffield workers from their flag-waving sign-up to the hecatomb on the Somme - The Atlantic

  • A superb novel - Daily Mirror

  • The blood and guts, the nightmare stink of cordite . . . appalling realism - Daily Telegraph

  • True and terrible - Observer

  • An outstanding achievement - Sunday Express

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John Harris

John Harris was born in 1916 and grew up in South Yorkshire. He became a journalist and worked for the Rotherham Advertiser and the Sheffield Telegraph, joining the RAF as a corporal attached to the South African Air Force during the Second World War and returning to journalism when the war ended.

He became a full-time author after the success of his 1953 novel The Sea Shall Not Have Them, which was made into a film. He wrote more than eighty works of fiction and non-fiction, including books under pseudonyms Max Hennessy and Mark Hebden. As Hebden he created the crime series featuring Inspector Pel, which his daughter Juliet continued after his death in 1991.