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If You're Reading This...: Last Letters from the Front Line [Kindle Edition]

Siân Price
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £8.54 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

"In this brilliant and profoundly moving collection of ‘farewell letters’ written by servicemen and women to their loved ones, Siân Price offers a remarkable insight into the hearts and minds of some of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the past three hundred years.

Each letter provides an enduring snapshot of an impossible moment in time – when an individual stares death squarely in the face. Some were written or dictated as the person lay mortally wounded; many were written on the eve of a great charge or battle; others were written by soldiers who experienced premonitions of their death, or by kamikaze pilots and condemned prisoners.

They write of the grim realities of battle, of daily hardships, of unquestioning patriotism or bitter regrets, of religious fervor or political disillusionment, of unrelenting optimism or sinking morale – and above all, they write of their love for their family and the desire to return to them one day.

Be it an epitaph dictated on a Napoleonic battlefield, a staunch, unsentimental letter written by a Victorian officer, or an email from a soldier in modern day Afghanistan, these voices speak eloquently and forcefully of the tragedy of war and answer that fundamental human need to say goodbye."

Product Description


An aspect of war never fully looked at before, the farewell letter writing by troops is fascinatingly and moving explored by Sian Price. - Northern Echo

About the Author

Siân Price is an award-winning television and radio producer whose credits include Time Team and Coal House. She has a BA in History from Warwick University and an MA in Film Archiving from the University of East Anglia. This is her first book. The Radio 4 documentary from which the book has grown won a New York World Radio Award for History.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3286 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Frontline Books (29 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,387 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By apollo
A beautifully written and interesting book. Really captures the mood and feelings of those writing their welfare letters to their loved ones. Well worth the purchase and read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The more things change.... 3 Feb. 2012
By Graves
an amazing compilation of 'last words' from soldiers through the centuries to their loved ones, this is a very powerful book and difficult to read. Not becaue it is poorly done but because the letters, the last wishes and thoughts of soldiers from the Napoleonic wars through the current war in Afghanistan are so powerful that it can only be handled in small doses.

One element that comes through as remarkably similiar through the men regardless of the war natinoality or even level of education is the similarity of the thoughts. Very few get jingoistic about 'gave my life for the cause.' Instead most talk about the hope they have not caused too much pain by their loss or the hope they will be remembered fondly or that their finest momments have been with their family. It is very intimate and one cannot help but feel like an interloper, but at the same time you are grateful for the chance to know, even in a small way, the soldiers who wrote the letters and feel the sense of loss at their untimely deaths.

In the end this is not an easy book to read, but it is a very powerful book, looking at those men in uniform which gave the last full measure of devotion, whom Kipling so well described as "most remarkable like you."
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5.0 out of 5 stars touching 13 April 2012
I was expecting this book to be a lot of letters from the 1st and 2nd world wars, but it isn't. It goes from Napoleonic wars to present day, and it carries the story behind the conflicts, and then a bit about the individual writer of the letter. The most touching one for me was finding out one of the letter writers was from my town.
The letters are full of worries for the family left behind, and for some a real urge to younger siblings/family members not to follow them into war if they can help it, it really is not all it is cracked up to be. They talk about the conditions they are living in, and what provisions they have made for family. I suppose due to their ages, majority are written to mum.
They are farewell letters/wills.
I really found it quite touching and could not read it all in one go.
Having some background to the conflicts and the individuals was actually, in my opinion, much better than pages and pages of letters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected pleasure 5 May 2012
By judy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after hearing about it on a TV interview. It appealed to me as I was researching bereavement reactions. The book surpassed my expectations as the historical references accompanying the letters added to the stories each chapter contained. Don't be put off by the sadness of the letters - it is history and events told incredibly well by those who didn't come home and discovered by the author.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful read 8 July 2012
A wonderful read and insight into the touching and heartful stories of conflict.

Written to keep the readed engrossed in the human side of conflict. I learnt so much about many instances throughout the years, whilst warming to the personal side .
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half the book it could it have been 23 July 2013
By Mike Watkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER
The structure of the book is straightforward enough - to each conflict a chapter, each chapter in two sections. The second half of each chapter is where the book works best; a series of short bio's of soldiers, along with lengthy quotes from various letters they wrote. The first section is less satisfactory. Broken down further by sub-headings, such as "A Soldiers Lot: Daily Slog & Hardships", facts given are sometimes somewhat random & rather disconnected from their sub-headings, quotes from letters are often only a sentence at a time and/or lack any sort of context or proper explanation. Thus on one page, we are told First Lieutenant Hennah wrote to the widow of George Duff. It is only on the next that we meet Captain George Duff of HMS Mars, presumably the same George Duff & presumably Hennah's Captain!

Unfortunately, whilst the author has a history degree, she is no historian. She has three serious faults that detract considerably from the book. First, she lacks any sort of academic rigour. Apart from the example above, the sub-heading for one bio states "Killed 2nd September 1862", but the text says he was shot on 30th August & died of his wounds the next day! Of another soldier, we are told his parents "had six children - four boys and three girls..." Such basic errors lead one to wonder how may other less glaring errors are hidden in the book (and what her editor was doing!). She is also prone to making absolute statements for which she presents no evidence, which leads me to the next problem.

She appears to have little understanding of, or empathy with, earlier periods of history, and approaches the subject with an entirely modern mind-set. For example, more than once in the early part of the book, she states that, in post-battle letters, the writers were in shock.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars letters from the front line 26 Jan. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book it wasnt just letters the author gave information about dates regiments battles so it is a
good history book brought to life by reading one persons thoughts who was there or about to be in battle and they were not all killed .The letters make you think what would I say to my family my fate was staring me in the face seeing others wounded and dying by me what would i want to say .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Doreen Spragg
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 5 months ago by john hooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good book
Published 9 months ago by Helen RobInon
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
It is haunting to read words written with so much love and longing. In a way those who wrote them live on.
Published 15 months ago by Marc Kenton
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
I can't quite put across in this review how good this book is. It communicates the individual suffering and scale of conflict better than anything I have ever read. Read more
Published 15 months ago by PhilD
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart wrenching and touching
Initially bought after hearing a radio review with the author. Not an easy book to read but everyone should read this, less we forget. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mrs S M Otter
1.0 out of 5 stars If you are reading this...
I thought that this book was terribly boring she reiterates the same points repetitively. I don't normally complain about books but I was so dissapointed. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars If You're Reading This: Last Letters from the Front Line.
Book received in good order and without delay. Purchased as Christmas gift for sister's partner, who has interest in events of World War I, item not read by me.
Published 23 months ago by KEN ABBOTT
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
As a slow read its really good a little sad in places and can be hard to get into, its more like reading a documentry than a book but i would recommend it.
Published on 21 May 2013 by Sarah
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