Review: Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

James Walton

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.

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