on 5 December 2006
What a marvellous, emotional read. Wonderfully put together by the author using his formula that works, of allowing these men to tell their story and memories in their own words.
It features the last 21 men, of which I think there is only one alive now, recalling not only the war but their lives. Therefore it is not only a historical tome, but a social commentary as well. We have some men recalling the Titanic being sunk. One chap even recalls watching Newton Heath playing football, before they became Manchester United!
In relation to the war, a recurring theme is that it is not recalled fondly or romatically as some authors, historians and broadcasters try to do on occasions. It is recalled with pride of what they had to do at that time, but tempered with the realism of the horror and waste of it all, to the men, their families and communities and a whole generation and also to the economy and infrastructure of the countries including lost shipping and live stock, as all the stories point out their was hardly any mechanised transport at that time other than staff cars!
A lovely read and I highly recommend it but it is a shame that nearly 100 years on from the war to end all wars we have British servicemen being killed in futile conflicts overseas.
on 30 January 2007
I echo the comments from the previous reviewer. This is a great read, and it's all their own words. The author has resisted the temptation to interperet or add to, or explain their words.
Not only do the men talk about the war, but they talk about their lives too. And for me that was equally as interesting because I've been tracing my family tree, and it gives you a small insite into the everyday lives of ordinary people at the turn of the last century.
It really is quite amazing how long these men have lived, and the thing that brought it home for me was the fact that some of them had outlived their own children!
on 8 August 2007
As an amateur student of military history, this book was always going to be picked up by my interest-radar, and I'm so glad it was. Much is written in history books of the battles, leaders, weaponry etc, but little is usually written about the experiences of the man on the ground.
This book was a wonderful idea - interview the remaining WW1 soldiers/sailors/airmen and publish it. The result is a goldmine of information about life in Britain at the turn of the last century and an insight into the misery of the trenches.
The old chaps who speak, are unfortunately now mostly gone, but if people of my age can read about their exploits with a tear in the eye from the comfort of a warm home in a free country, then their lives and their sacrifices mean just that bit more.
Some of them are bitter about the Great War and some more bitter about how no one seems to have learned anything because we still plunge ourselves into pointless foreign conflicts where, as usual, the poor guy in uniform suffers the greatest. Most however, pay tribute to their pals from the line, miss their long-gone wives and look back on full and enjoyable lives once the war ended. They have my greatest admiration and respect. Loved the photos too - it turned a book almost into a personal account read by the men who were there, as if you were talking to them personally.
on 27 February 2008
It would be easy to beleive that in order to enjoy this book you have to have more than a passing interest in the military or the first world war. You don't. This book is about people, and it is because of that I continued to read. These century old men were little more than children when they were recruited and their tales of war, work and family life are important snapshots of social history.
This book has sparked an interest for me and I will read Max Arthur's other books in the hope that they are as inspiring.
on 29 July 2009
With the passing of the last two veterans of the Great War, Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, I wanted to learn more about their lives and so I bought Last Post which I found fascinating. It not only had in their own words the lives of Henry and Harry, but nineteen other veterans who had lived to be over 100. They had all been born during Victoria's reign and had endured a tough childhood before going to France to fight. In their own words it creates a really vivid picture of a world that no one alive today can tell us about. I am so pleased that Max Arthur captured these precious memories. A tremendous book.