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Remembering Tommy: The British Soldier in the First World War [Hardcover]

Peter Doyle , Chris Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
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Book Description

1 Oct 2013
The British soldier of the Great War has been depicted in many books. Invariably, a pen picture paints him as stoic, joining the army in a wave of patriotic fervour, and destined to serve four years on the Western Front in some of the most costly battles in history. Yet often the picture is difficult to resolve for the reader. What was it like in the trenches? How did the soldier live, where did he sleep? What was it like to go over the top, and when he did, what did he carry with him? For many, the idea of trench life is hazy, and usually involves ‘drowning in mud’, in, as one writer put it, ‘the pitiless misery’ of Passchendaele. Recently, military historians have presented an alternative picture, a picture in which the hopelessness of the First World War is given new life and purpose. Remembering Tommy pays tribute to the real life British soldier of the Great War from the moment of joining up to their final homecoming. Using original artefacts in historic settings, the men and their words are brought to life. The uniforms they wore, the equipment they carried, the letters they wrote home, their personal possessions, mementos and photographs come together in a powerful tribute to the indomitable Tommy. Each one of these precious artefacts bears witness to the men who left them behind – allowing us to almost reach out and touch history.

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Remembering Tommy: The British Soldier in the First World War + The Great War: A Photographic Narrative (Imperial War Museum)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; 1 edition (1 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752479555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752479552
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 25 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Peter Doyle is a scientist and military historian specializing in the role of terrain in warfare. He is a visiting Professor at University College London, and is co-secretary of the All Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group. He is the author of "Beneath Flanders Fields: The Underground War 1914-18," "Grasping Gallipoli," and "Battle Story Gallipoli 1915." Chris Foster is an artist and photographer operating in the Yorkshire Dales. He developed the website "Craven's Part in the Great War" as a memorial to the men of Craven who served in World War I.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of detail and atmosphere 10 Nov 2013
There are two big problems in attempting a book like this: how to marry the text with the images, and how to make reconstructive images that are both `then' and `now'. Should the text be explaining the images, or should the images be illustrating the text, or should they be apart but parallel? And in photographing period scenarios using objects which were new then, do you use authentic objects which have aged, or reproduction objects which look appropriately new?

These questions arise while simultaneously reading and examining the photographs in `Remembering Tommy'. It's an extraordinary book, giving both an extensive overview, and inviting the reader to look closely at detail. For the first question the book has taken the third position, with the text and images being autonomous, but at the same time examining the same subjects. As regards the second question, the author and photographer have for the most part managed to show objects in extraordinarily good condition in settings which appear to have compressed the last century into nothing.

That said, there is a curious emptiness, an absence of people in the scenario photographs, provoking the feeling that someone has just left the space. Where is the soldier who has left his rifle in position? Who is drinking the tea at the table? Perhaps it is an invitation to read ourselves into these spaces. When the photographs do show people I think they work well, because what we see is the hand, the turned away face; we know these are actors, and they curiously emphasize the role of the objects playing their parts in this story. Would the odd shadow here and there have helped? Perhaps, but it might have looked too contrived and theatrical; the important aspect of the photographs is that they all show the real thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute delight. 26 May 2014
By EricH
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like one of the reviewers whose feedback I read before ordering this book, I'm posting this more or less immediately on receipt. In short, even after the briefest of looks, I cannot imagine anyone with an interest in the Great War NOT being delighted with 'Remembering Tommy'. Its coverage is obviously so wide-ranging and its presentation so rich and varied that I - very unusually - wanted to publish my initial reaction immediately. In fact I can't wait to get back to the book and enjoy it properly. I speak as one who spends a good deal of time researching (for group/area memorials and for individuals with a genealogical interest), so I have a roomful of resource materials. This book may not prove to be a factual resource of huge value - I have no idea whether it will or not - but I do know that I'm going to take great pleasure from delving into its beautifully presented pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better the expected!!! 25 Nov 2013
By woppit
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was expecting a book with a few pictures/diagrams and an explanation. The book was delightful, it has a lovely hard cover with a photograph of incidentals that the soldiers would have used. The book itself is suitable for both the novice and the experienced person teenager or adult who is familiar with World War I because there is something 'new' you are bound to learn.

I really recommend this book it is exceptional and the price is great.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I saw this book advertised in a local well known book shop at it`s full retail price. Including p&p I saved just over 8.00 by purchasing via Amazon. The book it`s self is a useful reference to the life of Tommy. Well written and researched with beautiful and informative photographs..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 11 Oct 2013
A fantastic book and the fitting tribute to the British soldier of the Great War. Using original artifacts of in their historic settings the authors manage to bring WW1 back to life. Highly recommended! Not only for those interested in military history.
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