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Tommy's War: A First World War Diary 1913-1918 Hardcover – 15 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st edition (15 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000728067X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007280674
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.3 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘The extraordinary diaries of an obscure Glasgow clerk who lived through the First World War and the Depression are set to become one of the publishing hits of the year’ Observer

From the Inside Flap

In 1913 Thomas Cairns Livingstone began keeping a diary. A Glaswegian shipping clerk, he spent his days working, visiting friends, complaining about the weather and worrying about the rent. He had no idea he would live through one of the most tumultuous periods of global history: the First World War.

But as the crisis in Europe worsened and news filtered back to an anxious home front, Livingstone's commentary on family life, Scottish weather and his culinary attempts were soon interwoven with accounts of soldiers wounded, prisoners taken and submarines sunk. Illustrated throughout with Livingstone's wry, whimsical sketches, these remarkable diaries capture perfectly the uncertainty of the period and the effects of war on an ordinary working-class family for whom life had to - and did - go on.

Unique and utterly compelling, Tommy's War is beautifully written, touching and difficult to put down.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. A. Palfree on 20 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a delight, a gem. The original illustrations take the diaries beyond the mundane, and Thomas Livingstone's gentle humour enlivens the often dreary weather and seemingly constant worries over Agnes health. Zeplins, Chimneys, the wash house, news from the front, the ironing, the cost of coal..... all of life is here. You will love it!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Pedros on 17 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I don't usually read diaries but this caught my eye and I decided to give it a go as I generally read war books. From page one it became a treasure trove of snippets from a bygone era. How a family strove to make ends meet through severe hardship during ww1. Thomas makes light of it all with wit, charm and such delightful drawings of news items or his family.
Shaun sewell has made a great discovery and shared it with the nation. We must thank you for that and just hope Harper collins will see fit to produce book 2 from 1919 t0 1933. I only hope someone will find the pre war diaries that might have started as early as 1905 whilst thomas was courting Agnes.
This is a real gem, set in Glasgow it gives us all another angle on the great war, A great social history, and whether you are from the North, the south, England, scotland, Ireland or Wales it will appeal to all.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. L. Richings on 19 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Well, what a find, I am normally an avid veiwer of the Antiques Roadshow but must have missed the autumn 2007 episode at alnwick castle which featured the original MSS of these diaries, these are, I think unique, part facsimilie MSS part typeset, the diaries are illustrated throughout by Thomas Cairns Livingstone, a well to do Glasweigian shipping clerk, the diaries span the best part of 30 years, but here we have the best bits, the Great War years, plus a few entries for 1933, depression era (how spookily apt for today) I am a collector of WWI Diaries, I like seeing the great war from all angles, but I have never come across one like these, and i don't think there will be another set like these published, I can rave on about how superb they are, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I am sure you will agree, it will be the best money you've ever spent, open the pages of Thomas Cairns livingstone's diaries and let him talk to you himself and be transported back to Post Edwardian Glasgow
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Duffy on 7 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I am a Kindle owner and use mine regularly, there is nothing quite like holding a beautiful book in your hands, flicking the edges of the pages and smelling the paper. This is such a book. It is a diary, one man's personal story with all that entail's - the ups, downs and trivia. I first became aware of the diaries when they were shown on BBC's Antiques Roadshow and, being a Scot, I took a particular interest. When I learned that this had been published, I added it to my wishlist and in the next few days I will embark on reading it in detail after little snippets here and there over the last week or so. I can hardly wait. I know I will not be disappointed. And I managed to buy a hardback copy at a ridiculously low price - and to a Scot that matters!!
Tommy's War: A First World War Diary 1913-1918
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Dec. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having a fair knowledge of this 1914/1918 hellish war from the writings of the politicians and historians,it was both interesting and enlightening to follow the lives of ordinary working folk who happened to be living and working in Glasgow at this time through the diaries of Thomas Livingstone. This book has everything: humour, compassion and suspense [will he or won't he be called to the trenches]. Here is a man of very limited formal education who writes beautifully quoting from the classics ,using French and Latin phrases and illustrating his pages with skillful sometimes sad but usually very funny cartoons. This day to day account of his family life[ birthdays, Christmas, summer holidays] against the horrors of the first world war is a masterpiece.Thomas Livingstone dealt with his wife's failing health, food shortages, the death of friends and alas lack of tobacco to indulge his only vice with fortitude and kindness.
I defy anyone to read this unassuming work without laughing out loud and shedding a few tears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Abel on 16 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One man's heart-warming account of lower-middle-class life in Glasgow set against the momentous events of the Great War. The struggles of everyday life are juxtaposed with world-changing events in Europe. Shows how people at home coped with everything from the loss of friends at the Front to shortages of food and fuel, and yet, they still carried on with the routine of family, work and leisure as best they could. Delightfully quirky illustrations by the author make this a truly personal record. With the centenary of World War One fast approaching, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in social history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book which gave a meaningful introduction to Tommy's small family's way of life during the First World War. It is a superb keyhole look at their lives in a working class area of Glasgow in difficult times.

Tommy gives the reader a pen picture of his day to day working and social life-----is wife , Agnes,to whom he is devoted, and their son, young Tommy, who is the apple of their eyes. The diary is kept faithfully each day and in it Tommy records --getting his hair cut, Agnes's frequent illnesses, young Tommy's successes at school , plus detailed records of the war being fought across the English Channel. The number of soldiers, German as well as British, killed and wounded are recorded just underneath his own family's story. Tommy illustrates his diary with little, humorous drawings which add poignancy to his records.

I found it difficult to put the book down. I kept saying to myself--"just another page"-but that did not work! An excellent read giving a glimpse of the social, political and difficult times at that stage of the 20th Century.
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