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Brothers in War [Hardcover]

Michael Walsh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 April 2006
The Beecheys were a close-knit family, eight brothers and five sisters under the loving eye of their widowed mother, Amy. As the First World War raged across Europe and beyond, the brothers were one-by-one swept up into its devastating path. Some of them were keen to enlist from the start, others were conscripted, and some dead against. Even Chris and Harold, who thought they had left the Old World behind them for ever for a new life down under, felt honour-bound to enlist in the Australian army and journey back across the Pacific to do their duty. Eventually, all the brothers would serve King and country on the battlefields of France, Flanders and East Africa. Tragedy followed tragedy, as one after another the Beechey boys fell, leaving their mother, sisters and wives to mourn their loss. It was a family sacrifice almost without parallel, and one that has remained forgotten and unmarked for nearly 90 years. Until now. Kept in a small brown case handed down by the brothers' youngest sister, Edie, were hundreds of letters sent home from the front by the Beechey boys: scraps of paper scribbled on in the firing line, heartfelt letters written from a deathbed, exasperated correspondences detailing the absurdities of life in the trenches. Having crossed the globe to piece the Beechey story together, Michael Walsh interweaves the letters with a moving account of brutal warfare and the anxieties of everyday life, revealing first-hand the catastrophe that was the Great War. From it all emerges the remarkable tale of the lost brothers - a wartime epic of courage, loyalty, love and sacrifice.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (29 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091908833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091908836
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 648,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A moving testament to the bravery and sacrifice of one British
-- Daily Mail

The devastating effect of the First World War is movingly recounted -- Sunday Express Magazine

Book Description

Eight brothers went to fight for Queen and Country in the Great War - only three would return alive... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story of the ultimate sacrifice 2 Aug 2006
I have to say this is the best book about WW1 I've ever read and I was moved to tears many times throughout. The story focuses on the Beechey family and the 5 sons who sacrificed their lives for their country. The author has done a tremendous amount of research, including following trails all the way to Australia. He's been able to obtain letters and photographs handed down to a relative of the Beecheys.

Most of the letters are written to their mother and youngest sister and are amazing in that none of the sons give any great detail of the horrors they faced, the awful conditions they endured. I found it incredibly moving that each letter is signed "with affection from your loving son....." or something similar.

It's obvious that the author has also done his research about the war and various battles and he's woven them into stories about how each of the Beechey boys met their sad end in a way that made it very readable for me, almost like a novel in some ways.

It's not just a book about war, it's about sacrifice and the loyalty and patriotism many men had for their country and a mother and her sons who made the ultimate sacrifice. I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true story we all need to know about 26 Sep 2006
This true story of the Beechey family, who endured with dignity and courage the death of five sons in the 1st World War, is extremely moving.

Michael Walsh should be congratulated on the sensitive and thoughtful way he has written about this family and brought their story to us. A piece of history that could so easily have been lost, if not for his endeavours.

When you come to the end of the book, the Beechey family remains with you, as though personally known to you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Brothers in War 11 May 2007
A perfect combination of fiction and non-fiction I found this to be as epic and moving an account of WWI as any I've read (including Sebastian Faulk's Birdsong) - with the added attraction of genuine eye witness acount of events, not unsimilar in some ways to the 'Forgotten Voices' series.

Walsh builds the characters and balances the various narratives to perfection (not an easy task) and has created a genuine page turner that must have taken years of research to put together.

It's hard at times to believe that all this happened less than 100 years ago; and the sense of stip upper lip in the face of seemingly never-ending horrors is truly astonishing.

Very highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling read 6 Dec 2006
Of all the world war books I've read none moved me more than this.

It's a cracking read from the start and the letters from the brothers really make the book come alive. The letters demonstrate the remarkable patriotism these chaps had for their king & country and their willingness to sacrifice all in the face of so much horror that was trench warfare. Remarkable! A must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is superb! 4 Jan 2008
I purchased this book a year ago and for some stupid reason I gave it away to an american friend in Washngton DC. I wanted her to experience the Great War from a British perspective. I've read a dozen or so books on the Great War, and I've found only Brothers, John Keegan's First World War and Faulk's Birdsong to have any lasting effect on me. The knack of writing a book on WW1 is that it must read like a novel, and Walsh does this, his syle is very similar to Keegan's. I recently collected a set of DVD's from a daily paper, and I couldn't help thinking that the Brothers could be actually moving across my TV screen. Walsh has painted a picture in my mind from a bygone age when war and human suffering in Europe went hand in hand. This book is a testament to why war should never happen. Well done Mr Walsh!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time 21 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was researching WW1 as we are planning a trip to Cambrai and the Somme in May 2012. This book was highlighted as being of relevance to my search. Wow! It is one of the best books I have ever read and in my 61 years I have read the full range of books from the classics to 'sunbathing' books . It is the first book that I have finished and then started to read again immediately. On the second reading I made notes of the family members, their units, the battles they encountered,the events at home and sadly, in some cases, the cemeteries or monuments where the bodies of this family lie. The narrative uses family letters to augment the plight of those at war detailing the life of the soldier at the front and the life of those left at home. I will read this book again before we travel to France. The next trip we plan will focus on those brothers buried in France and Belgium. I would highly recommend this book.
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