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The Virago Book of Women and the Great War Paperback – 4 Nov 1999


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The Virago Book of Women and the Great War + Scars Upon My Heart: Women's Poetry and Verse of the First World War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (4 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860495591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860495595
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Another contribution to the growing body of work on women's experience of war, Joyce Marlow's anthology collects a broad spectrum of women's writings on the First World War. Extracts from diaries--published and unpublished--autobiographies, letters, newspapers, and memoirs jostle for the reader's attention, carrying the voices of an equally diverse range of women from Britain, the USA, France, Germany, and Russia.

Nurses, train drivers, bank clerks, munition workers, policewomen, a "woman diplomatist", patriots, campaigners for peace: the list could go on, and the strength of this book is the scope and interest of the material it makes available (notably, extracts from previously untranslated German anthologies). Marlow includes a general introduction, together with brief notes to each section (one for each year of the war) and a guide to contributors-- some well known, others apparently unknown beyond their fleeting, if sometimes vivid, appearance here.

There is some attempt to arrange material within the annual sections: various subheadings--"Off to War", for example, "Nursing and Bloody Madness", "Air Raids and Rations", "Sex and Cinema Violence", "The Latest Excitements in Britain and Ireland"--do help to orient the reader. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to gauge the time, place, and purpose of the many different kinds of extracts included here--the inevitable weakness, perhaps, of such a wide- ranging anthology. --Vicky Lebeau --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Fascinating ... these first-person female memories are social history at its most compelling (SCOTSMAN)

What emerges most strongly, and much more clearly than ever before from this wonderfully lively and engaging anthology is the extraordinary diversity of the occupations adopted by women (Mark Bostridge, TLS)

A true labour of love (Kate Figes, WOMAN'S JOURNAL)

An interesting and well-chosen selection of contemporary accounts. (LITERARY REVIEW)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SJSmith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2009
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I'd read so much about the men in the First World War and only a little bit about life for women during this time therefore it was with great interest that I opened the covers to discover what life was like for women during the Great War. Joyce Marlow has brought together an interesting anthology that includes snippets from women of all ages who undertook different roles and responsibilities during the years covered in this collection.

The book is sectioned in the years of the war and at the end of the 1918 chapter there is also a brief addition from 1919 and how people were beginning to rebuild their lives and begin the steps of coming to terms with their losses. I found some of the accounts moving whilst others were from aspects of life that I wasn't so interested in; yet because of the structure of the book I was able to skip through anything I didn't feel pertinent to me.

The contributors come from all walks and life and a range of nationalities. Among them are some familiar names such as Vera Brittain, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and the Pankhurst family and then there are the ordinary women who took on board a range of diverse occupations to help with the war effort. Marlow details in the back biographical information about all of the contributors and references all her other sources.

Quoted on the back is The Scotsman stating that `these first-person female memories are social history at its most compelling' and they are; there are some genuinely entertaining sections where I was fascinated at how women tried to maintain a sense of normality at times whilst the world around them was devastated. I'm pleased I've finally read this good collection, some five years after buying it and when better time to read it than during November.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on 15 Mar. 2008
This is an enthralling collection of accounts of the rich and varied experiences of all sorts of different women during WW1. There is a hair-raising description of a stretcher bearer in the trenches, a dazzlingly vivid account of a Zeppelin air-raid, an hilarious description by an American nurse of assisting at an operation at which the French doctor calmly allowed the ash from his cigarette to drop into the wound he was operating on, "C'est sterile" he calmly explained to the nurse. Learn what it was like to work in a munitions factory, to be present at the execution of Edith Cavell, or to be on board the Lusitania when it sank. Every one of the pieces in this book is different, and every one is fascinating.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Budge Burgess on 14 Oct. 2003
Another excellent contribution to the understanding of the effects of the Great War. Joyce Marlow offers a thought-provoking selection of memoirs - first hand accounts of women's experiences, linked by careful analysis.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr on 4 July 2013
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This book is an excellent anthology of writing from women in a period that has been for too long dominated by male writers. It also gives you a view of life during the Great War as it was experienced by those not in the trenches. Highly recommended.
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