The First World War is a period that has been heavily covered in literature in recent years, particularly trench warfare. This book sheds new light on some of the less familiar theatres of that war. The structure is familiar in that it takes extracts from diaries (and a transcript from an oral record) and interweaves them, telling the story of the course of the war, as some of the "Forgotten Voices" series do.
Some of the diaries end abruptly with the death of the writer, which ironically, is possibly what helped to preserve them, as the written thoughts of those who died were very precious to relatives left behind.
Some of the accounts are beautifully written - particularly impressive are young Yves Congar who survived to become a Cardinal in the Catholic Church, and German teenager Piete Kuehr, who became an author as an adult.
The book contains the first account I have read from the Turks at Gallipoli, and offers a fascinating comparison of two diaries kept by opposing sides in East Africa.There is a glimpse of events that may have helped shape future history with the writings of Rudolf Hess, who became a founding father of the Nazi Party.
Most moving of all for me were the jottings of Canadian soldier Winthrop "Winnie" McClare, who enrolled underage, having built up his physical strength from working on his family's farm as a young teenager. His curtailed education meant that his writing style remained unpolished, underlining his extreme youth.
For those interested in the military and social history of the period, this is an enjoyable and very readable book, extremely well researched. Where possible, details of the diarists are supplied, which helps to round off their stories, and brings them alive to us.