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ADAMS, Bernard.

Nothing of Importance.

Eight months at the Front with a Welsh battalion

New York: Robert McBride & Company, March 1918 Stock Code: 140719
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"among the most significant records which the war has produced" - with Sassoon and Graves' battalion at the Front

First US edition, first printing, originally published by Methuen in the UK in 1917. Classic account of "everyday life and work in the trenches from the point of view of a fighting pacifist" (Falls). John Bernard Pye Adams (1890-1916), was a classics scholar educated Malvern and St. John's, Cambridge, who had spent time as assistant to the Educational Adviser and Warden of the House for Indian Students in London, and intended to travel to India as a missionary. He joined up as lieutenant in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in November, 1914, and was out at the front, acting latterly as temporary Captain from October 1915 to June 1916, when he was wounded and invalided home. He returned to the front in January 1917 and a just few weeks later was severely wounded leading his men in an attack on Serre, dying the following day in hospital.

Among his his fellow officers in the regiment were Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves, and according to the Battalion War Diary Sassoon was 'struck off' on the same day as Adams. In October 1918, when Sassoon heard that Wilfred Owen, who was with him recuperating at Craiglockhart, was to return to the Front, he presented him with his annotated copy of the book in which he comments on various events related, and identifies himself in the text as "Scott". The copy is now in the Wilfred Owen Collection at the Weston Library in Bodleian. On publication, The Daily Telegraph Welcomed the book, commenting that the title "completely belies its contents. So far from containing "nothing of importance," it will rank, beyond question, among the most significant records which the war has produced... a work of the rarest vividness and distinction... every turn marked by a radiantly sincere determination to tell the truth about things which have generally been grossly distorted by sentiment and cant... This is a book that all stay-at-homes should read with deliberation; its success among the active combatants is assured from the outset. For they alone are in a position to appreciate its clarity and truth". Both UK and US firsts are signally uncommon, especially so in the jacket..

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Octavo. Original red cloth, title gilt to spine and to the front board within a single fillet panel in blind. With the striking lilac on orange pictorial dust jacket.


A couple of sketches in the text.


An ex-library copy, but a remarkably sharp one; ticket pocket of the Watab Pulp & Paper Co. Library, Sartell, Minnesota to the front pastedown, issue slip still enclosed - the book was issued just once in April '18 - their small ink stamps to front free and pastedown endpapers,small ink press mark to the free; otherwise a tight, square copy, the cloth bright, gilt unoxidised, pale toning throughout, the jacket just a little rubbed, three short closed splits to the edges, and a small chip at the head of the spine, no loss of text. An exceptionally well-preserved copy.


Falls p.173


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