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Great War Lives: A Guide for Family Historians (How Our Ancestors Lived)

Great War Lives: A Guide for Family Historians (How Our Ancestors Lived) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Reed
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The Great War was a key event of the twentieth century and it is one of the most popular and rewarding areas for historical research - and for family historians. More records than ever are available to researchers whose relatives served during the war, and Paul Reed’s new book is the perfect guide to how to locate and understand these sources - and get the most out of them.

In fascinating detail he follows the stories of twelve service men who fought and died in the Great War – a rifleman, an infantry officer, a tunneller, a gunner, a Royal Marine, a naval rating, an airman, and others. He describes their wartime careers and shows how they fitted into the armed forces. He looks at what they did, at their lives in the front line, in the rear areas, on leave, and at the conditions they endured and the experiences they had. And he demonstrates how the research was done and how the lives of these individuals were reconstructed - the methods that were used, the sources that were consulted.

Paul Reed’s informative and accessible book will be essential reading and reference for anyone who wants to find out about the Great War and is keen to understand the part an ancestor played in it.

About the Author

Paul Reed is a leading military historian, specializing in the two world wars. He has been visiting European battlefields for more than thirty years, and lived on the Somme for over a decade. He has worked as a researcher and battlefield guide, and is the author of several books on the Great War. He also regularly contributes to television programmes, such as Timewatch, Meet the Ancestors and Who Do You Think You Are? and was historical consultant to BBC1 s My Family At War.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4633 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword (20 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009EE2CYA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #558,113 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Paul Reed is a leading military historian specialising in the First and Second World Wars. He is the author of seven books, including the best-selling 'Walking The Somme' (Pen & Sword 1997, reprint 2011), 'Great War Lives' (Pen & Sword 2010) and 'Walking D-Day' (Pen & Sword 2012). Paul also works as an Historical Consultant and Contributor for Television; having worked on BBC flagship history programmes like Timewatch, Who Do You Think You Are and Meet The Ancestors, he was also consultant on Michael Palin's 'Last Day of WW1' and series consultant for BBC1's 'My Family At War'. Recently he was series consultant for BBC2's 'Dig WW2', series consultant for Channel 5's 'War Hero In My Family' and consultant and presenter on 'WW1 Tunnels of Death'. Paul has upcoming book and TV projects about both WW1 and WW2, including a new edition of 'Walking The Salient' in 2014. He lives between homes in the south of England and Northern France.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the title suggests 6 Dec 2010
By Chris Baker VINE VOICE
Paul Reed will be well known to many visitors to this website from his excellent tour guides "Walking the Somme" and "Walking Arras" and from his regular TV work on both First and Second World War subjects. In "Great War Lives" he brings together twelve stories of individuals who served in the British forces in 1914-1918 and the methods by which he researched them.

"Great War Lives" does not offer a step-by-step or in-depth guide to researching a serviceman but the advice is excellent, up to date and will inspire many people to have a try. It is refreshing to see that the author - who has long had an important presence on websites and discussion forums - is not afraid to promote the use of the internet as a research medium, although he wisely recommends that the information found should usually be treated with some caution.

The twelve personal stories are well chosen and cover much ground: there are soldiers, marines and airmen; officers and rankers; the dead and the survivors. As such their stories require a researcher to draw upon a wide variety of sources of information, and Paul Reed explains at the end of each chapter what sources were needed and where they can be found. He also demonstrates that there is more to unearth even for men whose stories have been told before, such as the tunneller William Hackett VC and the poet Ivor Gurney. I always enjoy reading tales of men who served and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

For anyone might be encouraged to examine a soldier's military career, "Great War Lives" provides valuable advice, but it is more than that and offers an absorbing insight into men's lives, troubles, triumphs and, in some cases, their deaths in action.
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I have read Great War Lives by Paul Reed and highly recommend this well researched volume to anyone interested in researching their forefathers who fought in World War One or who are generally interested in this horrific period in the history of mankind. This book is an essential guide for the genealogist and provides ...invaluable information in listing the documents available in the various archives. The book uses the information from these sources to tell the stories of twelve men who took part in WW1. It intermingles facts of these individual soldiers within the narrative of the battles they fought, showing what they had to endure, how it would affect them after the war and if they paid the ultimate sacrifice, how it affected their bereaved families and their local communities. Congratulations to Paul Reed for producing this excellent book.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable effort, unreasonable price 9 Jan 2011
As with all Great War history published now, a fresh angle needs to be found because of the sheer volume of work that has gone before it. Great War lives attempts this by focussing on individual stories with a run down at the end of each chapter as to how the research was achieved. Some of the stories are interesting and engaging as there is a lot of detail about the individual involved, however, others are padded with detail about the general circumstances in which the individual found himself. This all works reasonably well, but does not justify the cover price of the book at £19.99, for this money you would expect a far more substantial work, unless you are specifically looking for advice on researching your ancestors role in the Great War, which is undoubtedly the book's selling point. The book loses a star on the basis of the price.

There are any number of excellent titles which offer a more in depth and better written analysis of the individuals experience during the war, for example "Tommy" by Richard Holmes, Malcolm Brown's "Tommy goes to War" or any of Lyn MacDonald's seminal works which are also cheaper to buy. It is a tough call writing an original First World War history as so much has been said already and it must be tempting to churn out yet another "Voices from..." effort. This book doesn't quite fall into this category as there is an earnestness in the writing and I think the book has been produced for the right reasons, however, caution has to be excercised when producing books new to the canon of the Great War there is a danger of making points and drawing conclusions that that have already been expressed eloquently and many times before.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book on WW I 18 Jan 2014
By Duncan A. Clarke - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My grandfather is chapter 11. It was great to see that there is a store to tell about the first black combat aviator.
4.0 out of 5 stars WW1 at a personal level 6 Feb 2012
By dr.ray - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a retired librarian, I have read and reviewed many books. I read this one, not because of a recommendation, but because of the chapter detailing much of the military career of my late father-in-law, William Robinson (Robbie) Clarke. Robbie was the first black military pilot in the world. This has been a long ignored fact while other pilots have been assigned that honor. However, I found that the entire book offers factually presented research, clearly written, with some references which would be helpful to serious seekers of family history. It was well worth the time.
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