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The Poppy: A Cultural History from Ancient Egypt to Flanders Fields to Afghanistan [Hardcover]

Nicholas J. Saunders
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: £20.00
Price: £13.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 Oct 2013
Where the earth is churned, poppies grow. In the aftermath of the horrific trench warfare of the First World War, the poppy – sprouting across the killing fields of France and Belgium, then immortalized in John McCrae’s moving poem – became a symbol of loss, remembrance, and redemption. Yet the poppy has been intricately entwined in human conflict, suffering, and spiritual cleansing for millennia. From the ancient Egyptian fights over prized dream-potions to the morphine addicts of the American Civil War, to the British entanglements in the Opium Wars with China and the struggle today to hold at bay Afghanistan’s tribal narcotics trade, there is the poppy. Now, Nicholas Saunders shares the definitive history of this ever-enduring icon – a story that is at turns tragic, provocative, eye-opening, and, most essentially, uplifting. Author bio: Nicholas Saunders is the world’s leading authority on the anthropology and archaeology of the First World War. His exhibition of trench art from the war was for five years a centrepiece of the ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’ in Ypres, Belgium. The author of more than twenty books and dozens of academic monographs, he has appeared in numerous documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic Channel.

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The Poppy: A Cultural History from Ancient Egypt to Flanders Fields to Afghanistan + Empires of the Dead: How One Man's Vision Led to the Creation of WW1's War Graves
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (17 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185168705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851687053
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 205,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘Saunders movingly presents the poppy in its beauty, its tragedy and its healing power as a potent symbol every year in our national and global remembrance of loss.’ 

(Saga magazine)

Review

'Saunders movingly presents the poppy in its beauty, its tragedy and its healing power as a potent symbol every year in our national and global remembrance of loss.' Saga Magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read 13 Nov 2013
By Matt
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Detailed, well written and expertly researched, Dr Nicholas J Saunders reveals how for thousands of years the poppy in its various forms has been heralded as a symbol of remembrance, a method of escapism and a tool of oppression. So intimately linked with the trenches of the Great War, Saunders shows how the poppy's history goes far beyond the killing fields of the Western Front. For millennia mankind has shared a complex and intimate relationship with this most social of flowers and here we learn the roles it has played in Empire building, the oppression of entire cultures and the waging of modern warfare. From Ancient Egypt to Helen of Troy, and the killing fields of the First World War to the bloody valleys of modern-day Afghanistan, this book highlights the power of the poppy to shape our world. An excellent book that is destined to change the way this crimson bloom is viewed, exposing how its raw power has influenced all our lives. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pain of Killing and the Killing of Pain 12 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A timely reminder, lest we forget, that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1. The Remembrance Day Poppy has become the most recognizable symbol of that war and many conflicts since. Inspired by John McCrae's poem 'In Flanders' Fields' and made manifest through the crusading zeal of two women, Anna Guerin and Moina Michael before being taken up by the British Legion, this study shows that the poppy as a memorial flower goes back at least 6,000 years. The association is due in large part to the conflation of the Corn Poppy with the Opium Poppy and this book is a very readable account of the history of both. Human folly seems to have been inextricably linked to these plants for millennia and Saunders acts as an enlightened guide to our need to remember and our desire to forget which brings us, with exquisite irony, from the hell of Helmand to Gardening Leave in Auchincruive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good read 30 Jan 2014
By rod
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this is a book that at first glance might seem to be only of interest to botanists but it is a really interesting and enlightening read. The poppy is just a flower to most people but I will never look at it in the same way, a well written and very interesting throughout.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brought as a present but had a quick glance. Looks good and i'd receommend if this was your type of read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WWI 12 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book - visited WWI battlefields last year - so had a good idea of what WWI was really like
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heartache 3 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book kept me enthral led from the first page to the last. When I purchased the book it was not what I expected. Every one should read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting.! 19 April 2014
By maisie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very interesting and makes you realise that, although the poppy is a beautiful flower, it is also the flower of misery and death. Two sides of the same coin really!! A brave subject to tackle and has been tackled very well in this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The poppy 7 April 2014
By bookmag
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a fab book, gives an insight into the essence of the poppy as a symbol and why we feel they way we do about it
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