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The Soldier's War: The Great War through Veterans' Eyes [Kindle Edition]

Richard van Emden
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

November 2008 sees the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War, 'the war to end all wars' that still haunts and fascinates in equal measure. Richard van Emden's new book tells that story as never before through the words and pictures of the men who were there. The Soldier's War includes incredible never-published-before letters and photographs to reveal the true stories of a lost generation.

The Soldier's War traces the war chronologically, taking stories from each year of the fighting and following the British Tommy through devastating battles and trench warfare to the armistice in 1918. The book also reflects on other lesser-known and more personal aspects of the war, such as the work of stretcher-bearers, army chaplains, and burial parties.

Each chapter will begin with an exploration of the soldiers' post-war attitudes to an emotive and controversial aspects of the conflict. What were their attitudes towards the enemy? What did the troops at the front line really think about their generals? Did they remember their time in the war with any fondness?

Central to The Soldier's War are the original and as-yet-unseen photographs that punctuate the narrative. Many soldiers carried lightweight VPK cameras (Vest Pocket Kodaks) and used them (illegally) to photograph the war as it unfolded. Between seventy-five and a hundred remarkable images will for the first time show trench-warfare as it really happened.

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Product Description


'Thousands of books have been written about the Great War, but perhaps none so vividly evocative as The Soldier's War an extraordinary homage to a lost generation' 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' The Times 'Not the least remarkable aspect of Van Emden's trawl through the memories of these survivors is that they are accompanied by around 100 unpublished photos Since original images from the war's sharp end are rarities, these pictures - blurred and fuzzy though many of them are - are themselves worth the price of the book' Literary Review 'Van Emden manages to establish in an immediate empathy with these ordinary men of Britain, thrown into such horrendous conditions. They hope, moan, laugh, grieve, despair and pray their way through the four years of the 'war to end all wars" Time Out


`Profoundly moving ... extraordinary homage to a lost generation'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4014 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (1 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004UA4DAE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #128,532 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soldiers War. 18 Oct. 2008
I don't normally feel compelled to comment on any books I read, however this new book by Richard Van Emden is so good that I couldn't resist making my views known.
The book progresses year by year through the duration of the war, each chapter is full of amazing personal accounts most of which have never previously been published, through these Mr Van Emden sets out not just to tell us of the utter horror of the war, but also of the everyday experiences of the troops out of the line.
However it is not just the superb text that makes this book a must buy, the book also contains many truely excellent unpublished photos that I have never seen before. Most of these photos were taken by troops using their own cameras which was strictly against regulations, but thanks to their efforts they give us a remarkable view of their world.
This book isn't just for those who have a major interest in the war, but should be read by just about everyone in order to give us all a better understanding of what this generation suffered.
A really superb read.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soldiers' War 10 Nov. 2008
The Soldiers' War is genuinely exceptional. There are other Great War anthologies around, but this one stands out by a country mile. The book claims to contain primarily unpublished stories from 1914-1918 and whilst I do not know enough about the period to comment, I do not recognise any accounts that I have read before. Furthermore, the breadth and exquisite balance of the tales here makes this book so very gripping.
The book contains not just the familiar stories associated with the war, but others that I have never even thought about: There is a man pulling 18th Century pewter from a dugout, another finding a Roman Sword uncovered by a shell explosion. There are stories of the survival and the beauty of nature, and of men locating trout ponds behind the Somme Battlefield for a spot of fishing.
Some of the stories are frightening and, at times, violent; many others are deeply moving and occasionally almost poetic, emotionally charged as they are. Others are genuinely funny, such as the officer who writes about two Geordie friends one of whom is shot and wounded. One man rips open the tunic of the other, looks at the wound and says `ee man, its champion'. The friend, pleased with the nice wound, replies: `Howay, Geordie, gan awa and shake hands with the German for bein' sae canny.' The incredible gallows humour of conflict.
I found the illustrations extraordinary, not least because the soldiers themselves took them, using their own private cameras, which were banned and therefore illegal. I've never seen such privately taken images elsewhere, although one slight nit-picky point here is the quality of reproduction - it's good, but given their historical importance might have been a little better. That said, on the eve of the 90th anniversary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, this book is an outstanding tribute to those men who lost so much, and whose sacrifices we must keep on remembering.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal accounts brought alive. 1 Nov. 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Whilst this is in no way an original format for WW1 books, much of the material is. I have to be honest and say I was expecting more interesting new photographs, but they are remarkable from the point of view that they were taken on Kodak pocket cameras that were banned for most of the war.

The book is mainly a selection of personal accounts, and are a great way for those who have never taken an interest in WW1 to quickly get a feel for the experiences of soldiers without having to study the dry minutiae of war tactics and so on. My personal favourite cameo was one where a British soldier goes to steal some chickens for lunch, but comes across a German doing the same. The German merely nods to acknowledge the Tommy, and both carry on with catching their respective chickens and returning to their trenches.

In all, I think it's been a bit over-marketed on the new photos, but the book is certainly a must-read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Soldiers' War 28 Dec. 2008
There are a couple of truisms about the Great War: that it was a famously squalid and horrible four years entailing the senseless loss of swathes of Europe's youth; and that it was the war that the combatants (such as my own grandfather) would never talk about.

It's in this context that this is such a good book. It builds up a compelling, multi-layered body of evidence about the daily (and nightly) experience of the soldiers. No matter how well we might feel we understand the war - not least from fictional works such as Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy, or Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong - there is something extraordinary about being told, in the words of those who were there, why there was a general order not to shoot rats, what it was like to watch a firing squad shoot a deserter, and how poison gas moved across the battlefield.

There are numerous frank admissions of terror, as well as the personal means by which the soldiers (both Tommies and officers) overcame this. There are also numerous descriptions of the appalling carnage and the casually witnessed dead - the soldiers playing cards using as their table the level back of a frozen soldier. For the generations that knew such scenes had taken place, but had not found a relative prepared to talk about it, this is an engrossing and important book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
This is an interesting book, well written and informative. I have a great interest in WW1 having written several myself. This book does what all good book do, it made you think.
Published 2 months ago by Jane
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and sobering
There are many books available on the First World War. What makes this one different? Well, it is the war told by those who were there. Read more
Published 7 months ago by JRF
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Gripping read
Published 7 months ago by Loggie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good to hear from the men who actually went through ...
Good to hear from the men who actually went through the War, some survived, some did not. It made me appreciate just what they went through and yet some retained their sense of... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Yvonne Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great item.
Published 7 months ago by Clifford Ian Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting
Published 8 months ago by Slider
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 8 months ago by Mr D J Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
G ives a meaningful human insight into the war, instead of the usual journalistic reporting of events.
Published 9 months ago by d.j. oconnor
5.0 out of 5 stars The soldiers war the great war through veterans eyes
Excellent riveting read very poignant and immensely sad the loss of so many fine people ,the stories are sometimes sad sometimes funny in macabre way a must read at a very very... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Tim ripley
4.0 out of 5 stars I think others have said its a little repetitive but ...
I think others have said its a little repetitive but it does give you a disturbing feeling of constant uncomfortable scary dullness....
Published 10 months ago by stuart r
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