McCray has published a remarkable book . . . that uses the memory of Modernist artist Robert Briffault . . . notes, bibliography, correspondence and more to illustrate the experience.

 —Andy Carling, NewEurope


A lovely, strange and haunting book. . . . Poetic and scholarly, cool and passionate, this is a work of history and memoir and literature, of the human imagination trying to make sense of a world that had come undone . . . perhaps even more urgent and necessary today than at any other time in the dark century since the beginning of World War One. A book that is important and brave.

—Paul Cody, author of four novels, including The Stolen Child and So Far Gone, and a memoir, The Last Next Time


I grew up on Daisy Woods farm, between Passchendaele and Zonnebeke. On our farm, I met an Australian pilot with maps in his hand searching for his uncle who died i the war. Everyone keeps looking for the "why." Phil's beautiful book gives to anyone who is looking for an answer to, "Why?" or, "What would have been by feelings?" a place consider the questions.

—Katleen Ostyn, Zonnebeke, Flanders, Belgium


A hundred years on, we still struggle to find meaning in the Great War, a 19th century conflict fought to bloody insanity with 20th century weapons and conscript armies. Phil McCray explores how writers like Robert Briffault sought to make sense of the carnage . . . we come to understand the importance of the journey.
 —David DeKok, author of The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege and
           Public Health


Briffault's Passchendaele surveys the First World War from the perspective of the Modernist artists and writers caught up in its madness. The scene is observed by a battlefield medical officer turned novelist, and considered from the vantage point of our own times. Various genres of sympathy illuminate the wide range of transformations the war imposed on our Modern era.

Phil McCray is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has been a Cornell University manuscripts archivist, a bicyclist, and founder of the Loudeac Tile Studio. His next book is a novelized social history of the nineteenth-century boat bums, scow tramps, and barge hobos who lived on the Erie Canal. He was born and lives in Ithaca, New York.

Rudi Publishing

Author interview with Andy Carling for  NewEurope, Belgium, July 2014.

Briffault's Passchendaele

Arts, Empathy, and the First World War

222 pages

Hardcover      ISBN 978-0-945213-32-1   $25.95

Paperback      ISBN 978-0-945213-34-5   $15.95

E Book           ISBN 978-0-945213-36-9    $ 8.99