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The Greater Game: Sporting Icons Who Fell in the Great War [Hardcover]

Clive Harris , Julian Whippy
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
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Book Description

19 May 2008
Amongst the many thousands of lives tragically cut short in the First World War were hundreds of young men who had athletic and sporting promise. This book studies fourteen professional sportsmen who gave their lives in that most vicious of conflicts. It also looks deeper into the impact that the War had on professional sport in Britain and the raising of sportsman-specific Pals units that enabled a number of these men to serve side-by-side in the trenches of France and Flanders. Their intriguing yet tragic stories are drawn from the ranks of professional footballers, international rugby stars, Wimbledon champions, Olympic gold medallists, cricketing heroes, golfing professionals, a member of the Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and a Tour de France winner of the countries fighting for the Allied cause. Once in uniform they became soldiers, sailors and airmen and as vulnerable and mortal as any of their comrades-in-arms. Whilst some were awarded Britain's highest military accolade, the Victoria Cross, many others lay in unmarked graves and are today listed on memorials to the missing. All left their lives of fame, wealth and security to play 'the Greater Game' overseas and pay the ultimate price on the field of battle.In addition to detailing the sporting achievements of these men this book delves into their military experiences, their battles are studied and footsteps are followed across the old front line. The Greater Game - Sporting Icons who Fell in The Great War will appeal to sporting and military enthusiasts alike whilst providing a fascinating and long overdue tribute to our true sporting heroes of ninety years ago.

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The Greater Game: Sporting Icons Who Fell in the Great War + The Final Whistle: The Great War in Fifteen Players + Into Touch: Rugby Internationals Killed in the Great War
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Military (19 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844157628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844157624
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greater Game 11 Aug 2008
It's always refreshing to come across a book which explores relatively new ground and "The Greater Game" certainly falls into that category. While it would be fair to say that most cricket or football fans with any interest in history will have already heard of Colin Blythe and Donald Bell, it's very unlikely that the name of rower Frederick Septimus Kelly would ring many bells, and even the keenest student of the First World War would hardly have been aware of the fascinating work of the Army Gymnastic Staff. This is one of the strengths of the book-a willingness to stray from the mainstream, which leaves the reader eager to learn more.

As professional battlefield guides, the authors are fully conscious of the value of a rattling good story and they have cast their net wide in search of suitable subject matter. Less familiar sports such as ice hockey and Aussie Rules are provided with the necessary context and a fine balance is maintained throughout between the sporting and military aspects. The end result is an extremely enjoyable collection of essays on individual sportsmen who paid the ultimate price in the service of their country.

The book is well written and contains many evocative photos of those whose stories are covered. I'm sure that this study has only scratched the surface and that there are many more sporting icons still awaiting discovery; perhaps "The Greater Game" might turn out to be only a first instalment. Overall then a most welcome addition to the Great War library-highly recommended for the sports fan and anyone with an interest in the First World War.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Greater Game: Sporting Icons Who Fell in the Great War

The Greater Game examines how a number of sporting icons gave their lives for their countries in the Great War, touches upon the careers of others who were fortunate enough to survive, and the history behind those units known for being based upon a solid cadre of sportsmen. Some of the names will be well known, but diligent research has added far more information about the lives, not just the sporting and military careers, of men like Ronnie Poulton Palmer and Colin Blythe. The authors' knowledge and experience as battlefield guides also adds colour about the war as experienced by their subjects.

There are also some less well-known but equally deserving sportsmen covered, names that have been mainly forgotten by the wider public, perhaps as their sports are not the highly popular team events. Tony Wilding, Wimbledon Champion, is one such person, an all-round athlete, who if he was alive today would have a public profile at least as high as David Beckham's. The real gems are the "foreign" sportsmen - the Aussie Rules Footballer, the one-eyed ice hockey star from Canada, and a Tour de France winner whose sporting battles seem to come straight from a schoolboy's annual. Names that may mean nothing to us Brits, but are honoured in their own countries.

This is a book that appears to carry something fresh on every page, and shines a light on an area of First World War history that many are dimly aware of. The breadth of sports covered results in a greater appeal than if the subject covered had been restricted to a particular sport. It also leaves the reader eager to find out more about those names touched upon, which is perhaps the highest praise it can deserve.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greater Game 3 Nov 2008
The Greater Game covers a different aspect of the Great War away from the main stream of subjects usually covered.A well written book which leaves the reader eager to know more about sporting icons who fought and died for their country in the Great war. Fascinating accounts which make it a hard book to put down.Very highly recommended and an ideal book for the sporting or First World War enthusiast.
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