I have always loved Arnold Bennett's novels, so was intrigued to find something autobiographical. As I'm fascinated by WW1 as well, this was not to be missed.
The style is rather stilted and the observations a little wooden, but there is much information about the effect of WW1 on the lives of ordinary French people, and descriptions of the immediate aftermath of the war, which are very interesting.
A real 'find' and one I'd recommend to anyone interested in either WW1 or Arnold Bennett.
This is a fairly short book. It appears to be a series of essays written by an American journalist on a visit to the Western Front. There is mention of the sinking of the Lusitania which was in May of 1915, but no references to events in early 1916 that would have been appropriate in context; so it would seem likely to have been written in the latter part of 1915.
It could be argued that the book is propaganda; the text shows that the author clearly sympathises more with the allies than with the Germans. It is quite possible that the book was destined to be used to make the American public more aware of the conflict, and the nature of the combatents, and to encourage the US to provide support for the allies, but that doesn't detract from the quality of the writing which is really superb.
I found the book truly fascinating. It contains some details of the daily life of the people living in and around the battle zone, as well as some harrowing descriptions of the devastation to the countryside, towns and cities. In particular, there are some really interesting glimpses into the world behind the soldiers; the facilities for providing them with food, drink, laundry, mail and of course munitions. In some ways, it could be said that it is a sanitised view; there is little mention of the true horror that some had to face. But in its way, it rises above the individual and focuses more upon the bigger picture.
I found this an easy read that gave a real insight into the mindset of middle aged white males of the period. It is also a moving account of the destruction that occurred in Ypres. It is unashamedly propagandist but still worth the time to read. It was refreshing to read contemporary accounts from the period, something the kindle is opening up to us.
Written in an old-fashioned style without the razz-a-ma-tazz of the modern story teller, a tale of Europe's first major catastrophe of the twentieth century that led to its decline and ended a thousand or more years of cultural advancement, wrecked on the ambitions of dishonest politicians and stupid generals.
I am about to visit some of the First World War sites. I downloaded this book with this in mind and have read it once. I shall take my Kindle with me and read the relevant sections again just before visiting some of these places to compare and contrast with what they are like today.
unexpected portrayal of the western front. soldiers well fed and in good spirits. occasional shelling. but civilian infrastructure devastated. this account differs hugely from conventional understanding but is an eye witness account. so well worth a read and a think.
A very worthwhile book in this anniversary year of the conflict, the first war brought about by continued stupidity, I found the content surprisingly chilling full of mans inhumanity but with touches of humour despite the horror.
An excellent read for the student of WW1. Much of the war is shown from a French perspective but this should be obligatory reading for every politician of any Country before they are given power to promote or agree to war.