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Keith Douglas, killed in action in Normandy in 1944, was one of the finest poets of World War II. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein in the north African desert, this book is a description of Douglas' experiences on the desert battlefield.
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Keith Douglas was born in 1920. At school and at Oxford he was both a prolific poet and a committed member of the Officers Training Corps. When the Second World War broke out, he enlisted immediately, and was posted to Palestine in 1941. When his tank regiment began fighting in El Alamein in 1942, Douglas was instructed to stay behind as a staff officer. But he made his own way to the battlefield, an experience which he recounted in his prose memoir Alamein to Zem Zem (first published in 1946). He later took part in the Normandy invasion on 6 June 1944, and was killed three days later. His Collected Poems came out in 1951. Richard Skinner is the author of a previous novel, The Red Dancer, which was translated into seven languages. He has also published a collection of poetry, the light user scheme, and a writer's handbook, Fiction Writing. A translation of The Velvet Gentleman was shortlisted in France for the Prix Livres & Musiques. He is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy.
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