Today I visited a meeting of the English-Book club. It was organized by BKC-school. It was free and you didn't have to be a pupil of this school to attend. The meeting was held in a café in Moscow. The discussion is on the book "The Red Bandge of Courage" by S. Crane. It's a real story about the Civil War in the USA. It was a war between the South and the North, between the Confederacy and the Union. The story is not about great battles, generals of the Armies, or Linkoln. It is about a Union soldier who went to the war as a volunteer. He was very naive and proud of himself before going to the war. He wanted to show off to those people who stayed home. He had realised very soon that war wasn't romantic and he began to have doubts about himself in his first battle. Henry understoond that he could run away from the battlefield. The main part of the book concerns this moral problem. When the first battle started, Henry left his position. Afterward he tried to justify himself. He didn't feel shame or guilt, but he was frightened by the thought that his friends might know about his cowardice. Accidentally, Henry got a wound on his head. So, other soldiers didn't ask him any questions about his absence during the battle. Actually, he became a brave soldier in the subsequent battles. We can say that the ending is positive.
When I read this book I was surpriesed that officers didn't punish deserters severely. When officers saw soldiers running away, they only beat those soldiers. There weren't any prison or military courts for them in the USA Army. I recalled Stalin's order during the battle of Stalingrad: "Let no one step back" and ordered officers to kill retreating soldiers. It's a cruel and disgusting episode in our history. Sometimes we must think and remember old mistakes to prevent new ones.