Generals Die in Bed.


152 pages
ISBN 978-1-55451-073-3
DDC C813'.52





Reviewed by Ian A. Andrews

Ian A. Andrews is a high-school social sciences teacher and editor of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association’s Focus.


Generals Die in Bed is not for the faint-of-heart. Although it was written in the first person, the novel is based on many of the actual experiences of a young American serving overseas with the Canadian Army during World War I. An introduction by McMaster University creative writing instructor Robert Nielsen places the book in historical context.


Generals Die in Bed should be featured alongside Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms as one of the classic anti-war novels coming from First World War experiences. However, it received harsh criticism by Canadian military authorities, not only for the obvious conclusion readers could draw from the title, but also for Harrison’s inclusion of events showing Canadian soldiers in an unfavourable light (for example, the looting of the French city of Arras and the indiscriminate killing of German prisoners). Also, Harrison’s characters do not hesitate to express disapproval of the industrial elites who profited from the fighting of others: “There’s two kinds of people in this world—there’s those that like wars and those that fight ’em, pal.”


The novel presents a social history of infantry troops in the Great War. It shows the results of bombs as well as the gritty elements of combat and leisure time—exposing the realities of war while downplaying the glamour. As such, it should be required reading in the high-school curriculum. Highly recommended.


Harrison, Charles Yale., “Generals Die in Bed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,