A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry Faber and Faber $195 Willie Dunne, an idealistic young man, goes to war with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers - and A Long Long Way tells of the pain of separation, the horrors of battle, the trauma of death, and the hardening of character as purpose is questioned and futility informs the answer. But Sebastian Barry's first world war offering distinguishes itself in many ways. Using lyrical prose daubed with realism, the Irish poet, playwright and novelist recalls the role played by thousands of his countrymen who enlisted in the British Army to help defeat the Germans. He also returns to the Easter Uprising of 1916 - a rebellion in which Irishmen seized Dublin with the aim of eradicating British rule - showing its effect on troops fighting for the king in distant lands. Although in part a salute to these soldiers, the story of Dunne is also a searing reminder of the cost of war. To this end Barry achieves his aims, although his descriptions of the conditions and cruelties become almost unbearable.