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Set before and during the Great War, Birdsong captures the drama of that era on both a national and a personal scale. It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who journeys to France on business in 1910 and becomes so entangled in a passionate clandestine love affair that he never returns home. Rootless and heartbroken when war breaks out in 1914, he joins the army and is given command of a brigade of miners, whose macabre assignment is to tunnel beneath German lines and set off bombs under the enemy trenches – thereby creating a pitch-dark subterranean battlefield even more ghastly than the air and trench warfare above them. As have many lost young men, Stephen finds a place and an intense camaraderie in this tortuous world, and through his eyes Faulks reveals not only the unspeakable carnage but the unexpected love and loyalty that took place in the fields of France a mere two generations ago.
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