The Middle Parts of Fortune

The Middle Parts of Fortune

Somme And Ancre, 1916


With an Introduction by Niall Ferguson

'Kill the buggers! Kill the bloody fucking swine! Kill them!'

Bourne is a private fighting on the front. He is under pressure to accept a commission and become an officer, but he prefers to be among the ranks, drawn into the universal struggle for survival in a world gone mad.

Manning's startling work is unlike any other First World War novel in its portrayal of the lives of ordinary British soldiers: the trauma of the Somme; the moments of bloodlust; the camaraderie, rivalry, alcohol and boredom. Considered obscene for its language and previously published in censored form as Her Privates We, The Middle Parts of Fortune appears here in its raw, unexpurgated version.


  • I read it over once each year to remember how things really were
    Ernest Hemingway

About the authors

Frederic Manning

Frederic Manning was born in Sydney in 1882. As a teenager he went with his tutor to England, where he eventually settled for most of his adult life. Manning began his career as a writer and poet in Britain with a narrative poem, Vigil of Brunhild (1907), Poems (1910) and Scenes and Portraits (1909), a collection of short historical fiction. His work won him considerable attention and acclaim. He was also the principal reviewer for the Spectator and forged a wide circle of literary friends and acquaintances. When the First World War broke out Manning failed to pass officer training but enlisted anyway and was sent to France in 1916, where he fought in the Battle of the Somme and was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. In 1929 he published The Middle Parts of Fortune under the pseudonym Private 19022, due to the book's shocking content. The book was highly praised by his contemporaries. Manning died in Hampstead in 1935.
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Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His most recent book is The Square and the Tower.
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