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All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War [Paperback]

Steve Humphries , Richard van Emden
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Feb 2004
The truth about the sacrifice and suffering on the home front in Britain during the First World War has never been told.
In this book some of the oldest men and women in the country speak for the first time about experiences and events that have remained buried for 85 years. Their testimony shows the same candour and courage we have become accustomed to hear from veterans of the western front.
Those interviewed include a survivor of a Zeppelin raid on Hull in 1915, a Welsh munitions worker recruited as a girl and a woman rescued from a bombed school after five days. There are also accounts of rural famine, bereavement and the effects on families back home, and even the story of a woman who planned to kill her family to save them further suffering.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (2 Feb 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755311892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755311897
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 394,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An important reminder of the emotional and psychological impact of war by the people who were there. (Guardian)

A classic piece of oral history bulging with facts that you kept feeling you should have known or guessed already - but which came as revelations all the same. (Daily Telegraph)

It is softly spoken, shocking and unfamiliar. (The Times)

About the Author

Steve Humphries is a TV producer renowned for his oral history series and their accompanying books. Richard van Emden is a writer and television researcher specialising in the First World War.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic history 29 Feb 2004
By bariau
The authors are right, the living history of the First World War is dying before our eyes and it thoroughly deserves to be recorded.
This fantastic book chooses not to trace the journey of the horrors of the Western Front but instead looks at life back in Britain during the war, drawing upon sources which have not been tapped before. This provides a fanscinating insight into the other side of the story, one which I hadn't ever really thought of before.
I've been to see the cemetaries at Tyne Cot and Ypres and was deeply moved by them, I've seen Hill 60 and the tomb of the unknown soldier but I had never really had spared a thought for those left at home. This book reveals some amazing stories from amazing people.
My only complaint is that I wish the book was longer - every story deserves to be recorded so that the people of my generation know how easy their lives truely are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Home Front given a lasting voice 3 Aug 2014
By lilysmum VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great book that was recommended to me as a good book to find out about what it was like to live through the war if you weren't a soldier, and were one of the children, or spouses, or parents, of a soldier. The various chapters each take a different aspect of WWI and explore it through oral histories of people, especially the poorest, who lived through it. Of course, all these people are now perished, and this is what makes this book so very special.

My favourite sections included "East Coast Bombardment", "Caring for the Wounded", and "The Year of Hunger". I found out lots about the Zeppelin raids on Britain, the way that VADs contributed to looking after wounded soldiers, and the way that food shortages affected people's lives.

The stories are entertaining, moving, humbling, gripping, and harrowing by turns. One example is Mary Hardie, aged just 4 when her mum got a telegram saying her husband was missing believed killed in 1916: " Of course, everyone was upset, but after two years had gone by, my mother took up with another man who was a tailor and the two of them worked in our house. We were all very happy. Then, right at the end of the war, another telegram came to say that Father had been released from a prisoner-of-war camp, and was on his way home, and would be arriving the next Saturday." The story goes on, and you see that everyone is a victim of the war in a different way.

This is a fitting book to read today as we commemorate the lives lost in the Great War and the terrible price paid by everyone - the people at home as well as the soldiers. I am so glad this book exists and has captured these memories before they were lost.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 1 Dec 2011
By Ping
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I've read on the home front of the first world war. Taking the war chronologically, told from the testimonies of the last generation to remember it, it provides and over-all picture while going into sufficient detail to be engrossing. In fact I couldn't put it down!
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