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Review: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

BY James Walton

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

Review: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

This astonishing book is all the more so because the author, Harry Parker, actually experienced the same war injury as his protagonist. James Walton recommends a novel that packs a powerful punch.

Anatomy of a Soldier
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

The main character in Harry Parker’s first novel is a British soldier who loses his legs when he stands on Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The fact that the same thing happened to Parker himself perhaps gives Anatomy of a Soldier an extra emotional punch, but this is still an astonishingly accomplished and powerful book in its own right.

It’s also a rather unusual one—because each of the 45 chapters is narrated by a different inanimate object that’s part of Tom’s story: among them, his tourniquet, one of his artificial legs and even the IED itself.

Lest you think this sounds over-clever, the contrast between blameless objects and the uses to which they’re put in war only adds to the poignancy.

The novel builds into a fully-rounded and overwhelmingly vivid picture of every aspect of Tom’s experience: from being a soldier in a country that he doesn’t really understand to being stared at by children in shops (“Mummy, that man’s a robot. Look”). Highly recommended.