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Real Heroes: Siegfried Sassoon

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

When you hear the term war hero, what do you picture?

Battlefield bravery — charging enemy lines in the face of incoming fire, risking one’s life to save the lives of friends, enduring painful injuries without complaint?

You probably don’t think of a war hero as one who sticks his neck out to oppose the very war in which he fights.

If we more readily associated heroism in war with the courageous resistance to one’s own bellicose government, the world might more often eschew the stupid and jingoistic reasons for which nations frequently shed innocent blood.

Siegfried Sassoon was a hero of both descriptions.

The son of an Anglo-Catholic mother and a Jewish father from Baghdad, Sassoon possessed a literary and artistic interest from an early age — a harbinger of future fame. His last name means “joy” in Hebrew. His first name might …