This is a difficult book. It is full of details, technical terms, military lingo and medical jargon. Its prose doesn’t flow. But the real difficulty lies in its substance: the narratives of the horrors of combat are tough enough, but the descriptions of the unavoidable annoyances, anguish and the alterations to body, mind and family – to life – are the hardest to take. Why? Because Kenneth MacLeish shows us that there isn’t much that can be done to return these men and women to who they were before their country sent them to war.