Malcolm Hollingdrake’s The Penultimate Man is beautiful, touching and poignant. I highly recommend this emotive short story, not in the least because the author kindly donates all his royalties to the Royal British Legion
*Lest we forget*
“War is what happens when language fails.”
– Mark Twain
World War I, the war that “would be over by Christmas” (1914) showed us the cruelty of men and the horrors we inflict upon others. The use of mustard gas gave new ways to torture and suffering and the war of the trenches – a war of slaughter, carnage and destruction. The ending of WWI – the war to end all wars – created the conditions for WWII.
Europe was devastated and European society forever destabilised. We must never forget the lives that have been sacrificed – never forget war leads to nothing and patriotic feelings have it in them to blind you from seeing and doing what is morally just.
The Author on The Penultimate Man
With this short story, I am proud to support The Royal British Legion at this historic time, the centenary of the conclusion of World War One. I hope you will forgive the brevity of this book but like many a soldier’s life, cut short in his prime, I hope that it will live in your memory, that the poignancy of this story allows you a minute of silence, a moment of reflection where you will remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for what they felt to be a true and just cause.
It was on a Monday, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918, that the war to end all wars came to an end that was for the many, a blessed relief. The indelible physical and mental scars would be carried by those from all sides of the conflict, making their return to a normal life, seem uncertain and confused. It was a period in time when much was expected from the mere mortal.
However, it is to the few that this story relates. It is dedicated to those who had to die in those months, weeks, days, hours and minutes leading up to the ceasefire as well as to those who succumbed to their injuries after the larks sang again above the blood-red poppy fields. It is with The Penultimate Man we focus our attention, a man about to pay the ultimate price in those brief moments before the thunder of war ceased.
On 26th September 2018, I shall pay homage to a man I never met, my great uncle, William Hollingdrake, who died that day in 1918 and is buried alongside friends in France. My great uncle, a man whose face to me is that of a stranger is a man who carried my very DNA, a man who came through the years from 1914 until that fateful day… so close to the cessation of hostilities and yet so far! As with every passing year, I shall remember him.
The audiobook to this story will also be released in aid of the charity. I am grateful to the support of many in enabling this short story to be brought to you. Thank you for your support.
My Thoughts & Recommendation
This is an emotive, compelling and heartbreaking short story that touched me profoundly. It made me hold my breath and think about the tragedies that war brings with it. The writing style is engaging and draws you in; the sentences, in all their simplicity and beauty, give us a real insight into the horrors of war transporting the readers back in time to that horrible war that has cost so many lives. The sacrifices made by those who went before us so that we are privileged to live in freedom and peace we will never forget.
I highly recommend reading this inspiring short story. Let us show our support to those in need of our help, disabled, injured and traumatised – who live with their physical and mental scars because of preserving our freedom.
About Malcolm Hollingdrake
If you are born in a library no wonder you have it in you to be an author one day. That is what happened to Malcolm Hollingdrake and although he took a circuitous route via a teaching career, once challenged to do so, he started writing vigorously. Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories but is foremost known as the author of the DCI Bennett crime thriller series. Malcolm enjoys collecting works from Northern artists. The author cherishes his home county, which is why his crime novels are set in Harrogate.
Books by Malcolm Hollingdrake
The Harrogate Crime Series:
#1 Only the Dead – my review
#2 Hell’s Gate – my review
#3 Flesh Evidence – my review
#4 Game Point – my review
#5 Dying Art – my review
#6 Crossed Out – my review
#7 The Third Breath – my review
#8 Treble Clef