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Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin Hardcover – Large Print, 1 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Charnwood; Large type edition edition (1 Sept. 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1444803565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444803563
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 0.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,805,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Praise for The Soldier's War 'Thousands of books have been written about the Great War, but perhaps none so vividly evocative as Richard van Emden's The Soldier's War an extraordinary homage to a lost generation' Daily Mail 'A remarkably distressing yet uplifting book these descriptions from a Tommy's eye-view have a gut-wrenching immediacy' Daily Mail 'In The Soldier's War, Richard van Emden has toiled in archives and hunted down caches of letters to tell the story of the war chronologically through the eyes of the Tommies who fought it, recording their days of tedium and moments of terror' The Times --Daly Mail --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Richard van Emden has interviewed over 270 veterans of the Great War and has written ten books on the Great War including The Trench, and The Last Fighting Tommy (both top ten bestsellers), The Soldier's War, Boy Soldiers of the Great War and Prisoners of the Kaiser. He has also worked on more than a dozen television programmes on the Great War, including Prisoners of the Kaiser, Veterans, Britain's Last Tommies, and the award winning Roses of No Man's Land and Britain's Boy Soldiers. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A.J.S. 62 on 28 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
During the Great War the work of the Royal Engineers really came to show us what this completely unappreciated arm were capable of, no army can ever be sustained in the field without their help, but it is rare for us to get a glimpse of the work of the ordinary Sapper in any war litrature.
Sapper Albert Martin took a considerable risk keeping his diaries, it was strictly against regulations and he probably would have been severely punished had the diaries been discovered.
Sapper Martins diaries were written in an easy reading style yet they hold the readers attention at every turn of the page, I found this book very difficult to put down. It is a fascinating tale of an ordianary soldier doing his duty that shows us the true reality of life at the front, from the mundane existance and boredom to the extreme horror and fear experienced by these men, this book really is a superb read and Mr Van Emden has done an excellent job editing the diaries.
I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone and I fail to see how this book would not be enjoyed by everyone who reads it, it is a book that should be read by those with a either strong or passing interest in the subject.
Thank you to Albert Martin for keeping his diaries, and thank you to Mr Van Emden for making them available to the public.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
During the first world war the sapper came into their own in this often missed and short life expectancy job on the front line. Here we get the view of the common man, who tells the tale of life in the trenches, the monotony, the repetition and existence in some of the worst trenches that the troops had to face. From the Somme to Ypres this vivid account is the type of history that I want to read. I don't like the generalisation of the war from the Generals or a Historians, I want it from the front line, from those who viewed the full horror and lived to tell the cost of not only friends and family but also of the moral boosts from home with their simple gifts alongside their letters. A true tale of courage, honour and above all bravery of the common man in the adversity of warfare. Van Emden has done a stirling job of condensing the war diaries of Albert and yet retained the voice of the common man.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
As the Great War marches out of living memory, it's almost a cliché to say that there has been a steady increase in interest in the experience of the passing generation, and a steady barrage of newly transcribed diaries, memoirs, and collections of letters.

The interest of these books often rests on the nature of the author's service, the theatre of war they served in, their rank and the nature of their service, not to mention their skill as a writer.

Sapper Jack Martin's Diary, ably edited by Richard van Emden, was presumably written in secret (diary keeping was banned at the front) or with the tacit approval of Martin's superiors. It is an outstanding example of an enlisted man's war: Martin's skill as a writer makes this an invaluable addition to the genre.

Martin served in the Royal Engineers, a volunteer from a stern no-conformist background. He served in the Brigade signals of the 122nd Infantry brigade, part of the 41st Division. (His brigade included the 12th East Surreys, 15th Hampshire's, 11th Royal West Kents, and the 18th Kings Royal Rifle Corps - research into these battalions will find this book of particular interest). The Division was deployed in France in May 1916, served o the Somme (where Martin's diary begins in September 1916); in the battle of Messines in summer 1917 and on the Flanders coast. In November 1918 they were sent to Italy to stem the Austro-Hungarian advance and Martin's description of Italy is especially striking. They returned to the Western front in February 1918, enduring the hammer blows of the German Spring Offensive, and after the Hundred Day's advance, finishing the war in occupation duties in Cologne.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By YourMumsSpuds on 6 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This diary, whilst being necessarily (and who can tell how well) edited is a wonderfully preserved and presented slice of Great War life from someone who served in Flanders and France from the latter part of the battle of the Somme through Pashendale, on to Italy then back to the Western Front just in time for Germany's 1918 offensive and the subsequent "100 days" leading to the eventual allied victory. "Sapper" Jack Martin narrates the daily events of his service with a great degree of humility and yet lacks the often perceived, fore-lock-tugging deference that many of the Georgian working and middle classes (at least on the surface) appeared to affect; this makes for a refreshing and humorously wry read.
I found this book to be highly compelling and I would strongly recommend it to any student of not only the Great War but also of early 20th Century.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By I bite on 27 Oct. 2011
Format: Diary
I've read most of the Amazon reviews on this book and they are generally highly complimentary. It seems to me that most miss the point that this is a valuable historical document, an 'illegal' war diary brought to light and skillfully edited to make a very readable novel.
Sapper Martin was an incredible man of his times. Courageous but not fearless, as he states that he sometimes got 'windy' (afraid) when working in lonely areas where he could be wounded and left undiscovered for days. His job was to keep the signal wires in working order after being blown apart by German artillery 'strafes'.
What come across strongly is his indomitable courage in the face of constant danger of sudden death. How many of us in our soft society of today would keep going for months on end with good humour, never knowing which day would be your last?
Some reviewers stated that Martin was a highly educated man. But again I think that this misses the point. Martin was an ordinarily educated man of those times. I have read WWI war letters from wives to their husbands, and vice-versa, that are both eloquent and moving, well spelt and constructed. These were from ordinary working people of the day. It would shame our current education establishment where literacy appears to be optional.
I heard a story recently read from a soldier's account of the Battle of the Somme. He states that when the whistles blew and the men emerged from their trenches to attack the German positions they stretched to left and right as far as his eyes could see. After ten paces half were gone. After twenty paces he was advancing alone. But still advancing. That to me brings Sapper Martin's courage and dedication to duty, and that of his comrades, into focus. A diary full of the mores of the time and the strength of mind of those who were bidden to fight for their country.
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