No 83 Alexander Baron
Fowler, Christopher, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
It's hard for frontline war writers to show an objective sensitivity to their subject matter while fighting for their country. Alexander Baron is one of the most consistently underrated British novelists of the Second World War. A left-wing author and soldier who read Jane Austen in the bomb-craters of Normandy, he was interested in the psychological aspects of war, and wrote with unusual sympathy about the lives of ordinary women as well as squaddies, portraying them as essentially decent people caught in extraordinary circumstances.
The Hackney-raised Alexander Bernstein was born toward the end of one world war and served in another. In the 1930s, alongside his friend Ted Willis, he became a leading light in the Labour Party's League of Youth (which was affiliated with the Communist Party), but grew disillusioned with far-left politics after talking to fighters returning from the Spanish Civil War. Serving in the British Army's Pioneer Corps, he was among the first troops to land in Sicily and again on D-Day, and used those experiences to write his 1948 first novel, From the City, From the Plough.
He followed this with There's No Home (1950), about British soldiers waiting out a lull in the war. The third part of the by now highly acclaimed trilogy was The Human Kind (1953), a series of linked vignettes that act as an overview of the entire war. …