Serge Janouin-Benanti

Fernand Goes to War

Version française


Inside the Breloux-La Crèche train station, Fernand observes the joyful departure of the first French troops mobilized on Sunday, August 2, 1914.

Fernand is apprehensive. More aligned with antimilitarist thinker Jean Jaurès, he’d rather have peace. But how can he avoid being swept up in the heady enthusiasm of these young soldiers wanting to avenge the German Siege of Paris in 1870?

And then, as everyone says, this short conflict will prepare a hundred-year peace!

Anyway, Fernand is at an age when love, not war, is at the forefront of one’s mind. Also, he isn’t scheduled to be called up to serve until 1915, and by then this conflict will surely be long over…

Reality, however, catches up with him, and Fernand is consumed with a number of worrisome questions: When will he leave for the front? In what condition will he return? Will he ever see his home again?

Much more than just the story of one man’s life, Fernand’s journey also reveals the stories of men he met in the rear, on the front line, and in prisoner-of-war camps. All of the adventures of this “ordinary” man are so poignant, giving us a more complete view of the Great War.

With this, his fifteenth book, Serge Janouin-Benanti offers us the story of a country in turmoil from a touching personal perspective. An engaging and insightful narrative.