By Pat Barker,

Book cover of Regeneration

Book description

"Calls to mind such early moderns as Hemingway and Fitzgerald...Some of the most powerful antiwar literature in modern English fiction."-The Boston Globe

The first book of the Regeneration Trilogy-a Booker Prize nominee and one of Entertainment Weekly's 100 All-Time Greatest Novels.

In 1917 Siegfried Sasson, noted poet and decorated war…

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Regeneration as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Pat Barker’s prize-winning 1991 novel is a devastating portrait of the horrors of the trenches of World War One but also a meditation on why men fight, how they suffer and recover, how they live for the men they fight with.

I came to Regeneration young, and to the poems of Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, and Siegfried Sassoon, all of whom appear in Barker’s novel. Sassoon’s declaration against the war is well known, as is his decision to return to it, to be with his men. Owen was killed in action.

There is also a character Barker creates: Billy Prior,…

From Martin's list on brotherhood in war – and sports.

When I was seventeen, I endlessly reread Robert Graves’s classic memoir Goodbye to All That.

It was the combination of his very low-key description of an ordinary middle-class English childhood with his equally matter-of-fact account of the horrors of the First World War that drew me. Pat Barker’s novel covers the aftermath of that experience, as poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen recover from “shell-shock” (or what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder) at Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh, under the pioneering care of psychiatrist W. H. R. Rivers.

How do you find meaning in ordinary life after suffering through…

From Benjamin's list on historical fiction about famous writers.

Set at the Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland in 1917 this book is about an army psychiatrist, William Rivers trying his best to find ways to help his traumatised patients.

Included as patients are real people such as WW1 poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and fictional characters like Billy Prior. Deeply distressed by what he’s witnessed, Billy’s only way of communicating is to write things down. As William Rivers works with his patients he becomes increasingly tormented that the success of his treatments will result in the men being sent back to the Front.

I can only imagine how painful…

Regeneration, the first novel of Pat Barker’s widely acclaimed The Regeneration Trilogy, is also a knock-out. In this novel about the psychosomatic effects of trench warfare, the angel of mercy is a psychiatric doctor based on the real-life W.H.R. Rivers, a neurologist and anthropologist holding the military rank of captain. His job at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland is to heal war-traumatized patients so that they could return to the Front. Rivers, conflicted himself about the war, is as duty-bound as his patients, one of whom is Siegfried Sassoon, who later became the heralded war poet. I love…

From Joanna's list on WWI Angels of Mercy.

The first of Pat Barker’s masterful Regeneration Trilogy won the Booker Prize in 1995 for its absorbing and sensitive study of the impact of war on the minds of the men who fought. Based on a real-life relationship between army psychologist W.H.R Rivers and the poet Siegfried Sassoon, Barker really conveys the horrors of war and explores human relationships in this intense book which I found immersive and emotionally draining. I like books that make me feel deeply, sometimes uncomfortably and this dark and graphic study makes a powerful anti-war statement.

I chose this historical fiction trilogy that explores British officers’ experience with shell shock, later defined as PTSD, during WWI because in that war it was first identified by doctors. It mixes fictional and historical characters, most notably poets Sigfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen, and their stay at a military psychiatric hospital, Craiglockhart in Scotland. Like the other books I recommend, this trilogy details the effects of war on a soldier’s identity and masculinity (many at the time thought these shell-shocked soldiers were less than men for not having a stiff, upper lip and carrying on). And Barker does it…

This novel opens Barker’s extraordinary trilogy about World War I, based on accounts given by the soldiers themselves. Barker’s research gives the opening novel a wonderful authenticity and a look into the biographies of soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon and eminent psychiatrist W. H. Rivers. Sassoon’s protest against the excesses and horrors of war that he witnessed land him in Craiglockart War Hospital as a shell-shocked patient of Dr. Rivers, who becomes more and more conflicted about sending such shell-shocked men back onto the battlefield after his “cures.” I found the novel to be a tale of fascinating history and psychological depth.…

This is another book about creativity, trauma, and the healing power of writing, but this time, the subjects are men. In this work of historical fiction, Barker explores the real experiences of the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and their psychotherapist WH Rivers. Barker gives us a nuanced look at male love and friendship within her exploration of a doctor working on the treatment of trauma, then described as ‘shell shock’ (today known as PTSD). 

From Eileen's list on managing mental suffering.

Siegfried Sassoon was a decorated war hero. His friend Robert Graves described Sassoon’s unswerving bravery in volunteering for the most dangerous raids as almost suicidal. But this homosexual son of the English Jewish merchant aristocracy achieved poetic note during the Great War through lyrics he wrote in protest against the war. He finally issued a public letter condemning the casual way in which leaders sent young men by their thousands to the slaughter for “end which I believe to be evil and unjust.” That was grounds for court-martial and execution by firing squad. In part thanks to Graves’ intervention to…

In all three novels Barker does a masterful job depicting the physical and psychological effects of war on human bodies and minds.  Real-life Doctor W. H. R. Rivers, a psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, is a character in all three.  Dr. Rivers was a pioneer in studying nerve regeneration and using talk therapy to unlock buried memories and help heal the shattered minds of soldiers suffering severe neurasthenia. Regeneration focuses on Dr. Rivers’ work with soldiers recovering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. In the process the reader is introduced to the range of other therapies also being used…

From Mary's list on WW1 through multiple perspectives.

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