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Faces of World War One: The Tragedy of the Great War in Words and Pictures [Hardcover]

Max Arthur
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Oct 2007
Charting the BEA's entry into warfare in 1914, he tells the story in words and pictures of the new conscripted army's life through the five years of slaughter and suffering. He brilliantly conveys not only the heroism, but also the universal horror, futility, humour and boredom of warfare. From the front-line troops and the daily dice with death, to the support lines, communications, enlistment, training and propaganda. Every aspect of the soldiers life will be covered here, in this brilliant collection of images and interviews, that brings the Great War to life once more.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell; First Edition, First Impression edition (15 Oct 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844035611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844035618
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 23.5 x 28.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 498,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


A picture is worth 1,000 words and Max Arthur has trawled through the archives of the Imperial War Musem to tell the story of the Great War in poignant black and white. --Tribune Magazine

Book Description

Evocative contemporary imagery sourced from world famous archives, such as the Imperial War Museum. Eye-witness accounts taken from recorded interviews of those who survived the horror of the various battles from 1914-18. Max Arthur is a best-selling author of contemporary accounts of both World Wars, and a superb researcher of original material of the Great War itself.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable faces 30 Oct 2007
There have been other books of photos of World War 1, and one might expect to see the same old images - but this is a collection of many unfamiliar, previously unseen photos - of subjects ranging from the Western Front, Gallipoli, the home front, and behind the lines - and both before, during and after the war.
The large format lends itself to the often panoramic images - and also allows you to see in detail extraordinary and haunting portraits - the 'faces' after which the book is named. It's a collection to please the expert and the interested browser alike - a WWI buff will appreciate the precisely captioned battle scenes - but any reader will feel the impact of the personal quotations which accompany many images - they add an extraordinary dimension to one's understanding of life and conditions in the trenches. It's an immensely moving photo-record, but my heart was particularly wrenched by the three Australian brothers who all died in one two-day attack, the home images of the average, working-class man who went to fight for king and country... not the Eton toffs, but the desperately poor. The images depict a world of contrasts, both in Britain and in Germany - but when it came down to it, all the men at the front were in the same boat, and returned after the conflict to their bleak lives with their terrible disfigurements, mental scars and the memory of lost comrades.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Collection to make you think 20 Aug 2008
I agree with the other reviews so will try not to repeat too much in my own review.

Children (and some adults) are all too dismissive of the previous generations and, although I would not recommend showing this to young children, it could help teenagers studying history to get a real sense of the conditions the men fighting in the First World War were subject to. The author does not shy away from showing the dead in photographs and I think it gives the reader something to think about and possibly discuss.

As a book, it is well thought out and presented beautifully. It's a book I would happily leave on my coffee table for friends to flick through. A couple of friends can not understand why I would want to look at pictures from the War (as they find the subject of warfare disturbing) but I've never believed in wrapping people in cotton wool - I think people should know what those men went through and be proud of them. Although it is a collection of frank photographs of war, I think the subject has been handled sensitively too - there are no gratuitous shots what so ever in this book.

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to get a real sense of the lives of the men involved.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. 7 Aug 2008
This is a brilliant book. Every picture, many of which I have never seen before tells a different story. Max Arthur has juxtaposed the photographs in chronological order and there is a real drama in the build up to the war from both sides and also in the lead up to the battles of the Somme and Arras. The consequence of the battles is poignantly told not only in photos but in words of the men who fought in them. I was particularly moved by the photo of the packs taken from the bodies of the dead, the photo shows British soldiers searching through for anything that can be sent home to the dead man's next of kin.

One particular photo is accompanied by the words of a young Lieutenant 'Now we die. It is the wet death, the muddy death, death dripping with blood. The bodies lie frozen in the earth which slowly sucks them in. The luckiest depart wrapped in canvas, to sleep in the nearest cemetery.'

But there are lighter moments such as the amazing shot of the Zulus dancing in their full battle costume and the tough looking Australian who the Kaiser loathed because he was always stealing from the German dead. There are many more like this in this memorable book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating 1 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
absolutely brilliant, amazing photos of world war 1 that you never heard about.. I never knew there were zulus on the western front... heartbreaking photos, images that rip at your heart and at the same time, perhaps just on the next page a photo that sings of love, compassion, humour, courage.... wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. such an important book. would recommend to anyone.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Addition to the WW1 Library 6 Mar 2008
This is first and foremost a picture book. As you might expect, there are many uncomfortable images, but it is a far more balanced book than that. There are many depictions of strong comradeship and even happiness amongst the desperate conditions and casualties of the trenches. Without much in the way of text, it doesn't fully, even with pictures, convey the 'grit' of the WW1 experience that I think many of today's, removed generation would like to understand. But as a picture book, it has no rival, and is beautifully printed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Lance Grundy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Primarily focusing on the Western Front, this magnificently illustrated history book provides a visually stunning [and at times quite moving] record of World War One. High quality photographs are combined with well-chosen quotations from soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict to create a comprehensive account of the First World War in words and pictures [many of the quotes are taken from the author's acclaimed 2003 book Forgotten Voices of the Great War]. From the optimism of 1914 to the despair of 1918, and all the suffering in between, the handpicked photographs capture it all.

As you'd expect there are plenty of grim images to be found here and the deterioration of both the men themselves and the conditions they fought in is plain to see as you turn the pages. However, there are some sparks of light amidst all the darkness. As Ian Hislop says in the foreword, it's striking how often "the men smile at the camera when, to our eyes, there can be so little to smile about" and there are numerous photographs of the soldiers smiling and laughing while engaged in everything from football matches to pillow fights.

One thing I did read in this book that I wasn't previously aware of is that in some regiments the soldiers used to play football together as they went 'over the top'. To keep their morale up they'd pass the ball to each other as they crossed over no-man's land towards the enemy guns. As one Tommy recalls about the very first time he 'went over': "I remember the ball dropping at my feet and I passed it to Captain Maxwell. 'That was a good pass you made, young Withers' he shouted, before he thumped it towards the German lines". A great little anecdote, I thought, of the kind that would make this book a worthwhile read for anyone with an interest in the First World War.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 12 days ago by John Armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Purchase
This was bought as a Christmas present. The recipient was really pleased with it. The photos in this book at really good, deep and poignant. Read more
Published 6 months ago by S. M. O'neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book Great Pictures
Brought for my husband for a christmas present and he loved it. GREAT pictures and it was just what he wanted
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Sadie J Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Arrived well packaged, in excellent condition and delivery was quick. A picture paints a thousand words..a phrase certainly true of this book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Gillian
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 'Bring Reality To Life Book'
This is an excellent book for older children and adults. Was perfect for my teenage son's school project, as the graphic pictures appealed, and sparked his interest. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alisn Bundy
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
An excellent pictorial portrayal of WW1.
Well documented,presented and priced.
Twenty words is a lot to write when one will do. Read more
Published 16 months ago by 5 string bassist
4.0 out of 5 stars Faces oif World War 1
This book was bought for my husband who thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately it didn't take long as it was mainly photographs which I had been unaware of when purchasing but the... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, Very well produced.
I am very pleased to have purchased this as a Christmas Present for very good friend of mine. I purley based my purchase from the glowing reviews given by customers who have... Read more
Published on 10 Jan 2010 by Fraser Lock-Macardy
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed.
There must be thousands of contemporary photographs encompassing all aspects of world war one , yet unfortunately this book with a few exceptions gives us the same old selection ,... Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2009 by RUFUS
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