Sandstone Press, 2009. 90 pages. Paperback.
Cogadh Ruairidh (Ruairidh's War) is an account of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, as seen through the eyes of a young Highland soldier, Ruairidh, and his friends.
We first see the waiting period, when the soldiers' emotions swing between tedium and high tension, fear and naive overconfidence, and then, clearly and dispassionately, what the three men encounter as they go over the top and advance towards the enemy trenches - and the waiting machine guns.
The novel follows Ruairidh through his convalescence in France and his journey home, where he struggles to come to terms with what has happened. It is a powerful evocation of one of the grimmest days in the history of modern warfare. As an indicment of the brutality and futility of war, it is all the more effective for the fact that MacLean lets the events speak for themselves.
Reading Level: Early Intermediate (Ideal for learners, with English chapter summaries and glossaries)