Set just after the Normandy invasion, "Articles of War" is the story of Heck, an American GI who has recently arrived from Ohio. Utterly inexperienced as a soldier, Heck is paralyzed with fear during his first firefight. Desperate to get away from the front line, he deliberately allows himself to be shot but a fellow private sees and understands what he has done. Sent to a hospital behind the lines, his wound heals quickly and he returns to find that the witness has been promoted and is now his superior. He says nothing to Heck about his act of cowardice but a little while later sends him to the rear for a special assignment, without telling him what that assignment is. In fact, he has been assigned to the firing squad which will execute Private Eddie Slovak (in reality the only GI shot for desertion during the Second World War and the first since the Civil War). This is Heck's excruciating moral punishment. He, himself a deserter, is forced to shoot another deserter. Nick Arvin draws the reader into the unimaginable fear, violence and chaos of the war zone.
Like the very best war fiction - Pat Barker's "Regeneration" trilogy, Sebastian Faulks' "Birdsong" - he shows how ordinary lives are transformed by extraordinary events. Praise for "Articles of War": 'Arvin's first novel is an elegant, understated testament to the stoicism, accidental cowardice and occasional heroics of men under fire.' - "Publishers Weekly". 'Breathtakingly fine. Resonate in tone, surprising-eviscerating in its honesty, faceted in its complexity. Mr. Arvin has accomplished what only a handful of writers have managed - he has crafted a spare and perfect masterwork.' - Mark Spragg.