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Ghost Road, The Paperback – Aug 26 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin UK (Aug. 26 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014103095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141030951
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #88,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on May 27 2008
Format: Paperback
Please do not read The Ghost Road before reading Regeneration and The Eye in the Door (the order intended by the author). As brilliant as The Ghost Road is, its message will hit you harder if you have read the other books first and anticipated what Pat Barker's final vision of humanity would be.

Without revealing any spoilers, The Ghost Road is the most nuanced novel about war that I've ever read. Most war-related books take one of two basic themes: Either war is too awful to be tolerated and needs to be abolished . . . or human nobility is expressed within war, but war itself is an evil event with people being destroyed by incompetent leaders. You'll find a different message here, one implied by a combination of observations about a tribe of head hunters and by the behavior of Billy Prior, one of the primary characters in the three books. I leave it to you to find out what this nuanced message is . . . but I believe it will probably surprise and enlighten you.

By narrowing down the focus onto just two of the continuing characters of the trilogy, Dr. William Rivers and Lieutenant Billy Prior, The Ghost Road has an intensity and power that I didn't observe in the prior two books. Clearly, The Ghost Road is a step above those excellent novels.

I am often left wondering why books that win prestigious prizes (like the 1995 Booker Prize . . . awarded to The Ghost Road) did so. I have no doubt that this award was well earned.

Life can be an ironic event, punctuated by moments of sublime joy. I have seldom read a novel that captured those perspectives as well as The Ghost Road does.

Brava, Ms. Barker!
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By A Customer on Oct. 24 2003
Format: Paperback
Everyone living in the 21st century who cares about the future of humanity -- not to mention fine literature -- should read this extremely skillfully written, emotionally powerful novel of The Great War. Pat Barker has perfect control over her material, and manages to write with power but never goes over the top or gets melodramatic -- a tough thing to do when you're writing about any war. Starting gently, subtly, even humorously, the book builds quietly until it reaches its final, wrenching chapters. It's a touching, compelling, beautifully told tale that deserves a worldwide audience. I can't wait to read more by Pat Barker!
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Format: Paperback
Not your ordinary war read. I love authors that take a topic of huge proportions, say World War I, and write a book that actually stands taller in the imagination of the reader as great a couple weeks later.
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Format: Paperback
Pat Barker's magnificent trilogy is not only a profound contribution to our literature on the First World War - it is also one of the most distinguished works of contemporary fiction in any genre. Barker doesn't skirt around the central issues with a po-faced patriotic reverence, but rather tackles them head on: the agonizing contradictions of patriotism and protest; the politics of social and self-surveillance; the homoerotic undertones of trench camaraderie, especially among the war poets; the horrendous physical and psychological costs of war; and the sense of personal duty which drives us, nonetheless, to fight. These are big themes, but Barker's talent is to handle them in a way which makes her novels feel like an easy read. They are accessible, engaging, seemingly simplistic in their style - but in the end profoundly moving in a way which only the highest literature aspires to be. The trick is that she makes her characters so real for us - Prior and Rivers, the consistent protagonists, are completely human. She makes us experience a world-historical incident on a very human scale. Harrowing, intelligent, moving and funny, Barker has crafted a fictional epic that will stay with you forever. Walking through Sydney's Central railway station months after finishing these books, I came across the honour boards listing the hundreds of railway men and women who died in the Great War. Barker's books made the war real for me, made these lives - these deaths - real. If they do nothing more than that for you, they've succeeded.
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By A Customer on Nov. 26 2002
Format: Paperback
First, a comment on the review from the "Top 50 Reviewer" from NH: I find his(her?) entire review willfully odd in many regards, not the least of which is the claim that to read the historian John Keegan is to discover that the war was well conducted.
But I digress... The point of the novel, indeed the trilogy, seems to me to be betrayal. Whatever else he is, Billy Prior seems to have been betrayed, to varying degress, by most of those whom he has encounterd: father, mother, priest, military superiors, Empire, and, most probably but at least humanely, Rivers himself. In the final tally, there seems to be little difference between governments prosecuting the war to its last gasp ("And then the next day in 'John Bull' there's Bottomley saying, No, no, no and once again no. We must fight to the bitter end.")---and the headhunting Melanesians. To the (possible) credit of the Melanesians, they at least understand that they are unreconstructed headhunters.
The manipulative, sexually voracious, and profoundly self-aware Billy Prior is an unforgettable fictional creation. (And, yes, the homosexual scenes distressed me and made me queasy.) And yet, there he is, in all his fictional power and extremely sloppy humanity: neither pauper nor prince, neither straight nor gay, neither hero nor coward, neither fully sincere nor totally duplicitous, neither pacificist nor Johnny Bull, neither sane nor insane, both the hunter and the hunted. In his multiplicity he becomes Everysoldier. And the power of Pat Barker's prose is to make the reader care profoundly about Billy Prior's fate, consigned, as we all knew that he would be, to the "ghost road" of the title.
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