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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broken World Remembered
This is a moving, evocative anthology of writings on the First World War by the men and women who experienced it, from the trenches to the Home Front and across the division of Europe. The editors have gathered extracts from sources as varied as the classic `Seven Pillars of Wisdom' by T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and a soldier's Field Service postcard home, bearing only...
Published 10 months ago by Number13

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poignant memories of The Great War.
‘A Broken World’ is an anthology of non-fiction writing from the First World War, chosen and edited by the best-selling author Sebastian Faulks. The collection is extremely powerful and thought provoking, often very poignant as in the writing that spoke of ‘where there were once nine around the table, we were now reduced to one’. This is shocking...
Published 9 months ago by Ismay1012


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Broken World Remembered, 5 July 2014
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Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This is a moving, evocative anthology of writings on the First World War by the men and women who experienced it, from the trenches to the Home Front and across the division of Europe. The editors have gathered extracts from sources as varied as the classic `Seven Pillars of Wisdom' by T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and a soldier's Field Service postcard home, bearing only the single word: "Peace".

The majority of the contributors are British but we also share the experiences of people from France, India, Canada, Australia, Russia, the United States and Germany. Some are famous writers, some became famous in other fields, but for me many of the most powerful sections were written by the "ordinary" people who sent their memories to archives, to government surveys, to their families at home.

Most British readers will find the history of their own families reflected somewhere in the shared experiences recorded in these pages. Near the end of the book is a list of all the "Thankful Villages" in England from where every man who went to fight came safely home; there are just twenty-three.

The experiences of and views on the war are as varied as the contributors: a conscientious objector morally strengthened by imprisonment; a German fighter pilot recounting dogfights over France; a young Captain living among the dead on the Somme; an officer who, while wounded, leads his men to attack the German trenches and is later modest and surprised at receiving the Victoria Cross.

The courts-martial and executions of so-called `deserters', caring nurses in field hospitals, soldiers enduring days under fire, the terrible aftermath of battle - these are topics familiar from any history of the war but in these collected memories each is a potent, individual record.

Far from being `the war to end all war' there are the signs, obvious with hindsight, that this war served as a template for the next: aerial bombing of cities, forced labour and `deportations' of women in German-occupied France, the brutal, systematic mistreatment of British POWs in Germany and captured Russians treated appallingly as slave workers.

`A Broken World' is at different moments shocking, inspiring, poignant and always interesting; varied and rich in personal details and insights.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A broad and moving anthology, 8 Aug. 2014
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Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This is a broad anthology of letters, diaries and transcribed interviews from people who witnessed or were involved with the war. In an attempt to do something slightly different from the plethora of world war I books flooding out from publishers this year, the extracts have been organised not by chronology but by place. So responses from those away from the battlefields are gathered together in one section, those at war in another. This does mean that we get responses to the armistice before we read about soldiers' experiences, for example, which may be slightly confusing to some readers.

The extracts themselves are often drawn from other published sources so anyone who has read other WW1 letter and diary collections may find some of the material familiar. The most moving sections for me were the letters and memories of 'ordinary' people: the mother writing to survivors of the Lusitania trying to find last memories of her son, and the compassionate replies she gets from strangers; a young boy's memory of the armistice as marked in a naval port.

Faulks' introduction is slightly strained and innocent as he positions WW1 as the first human experience of war on such a cataclysmic scale thus, in his view, undoing the renaissance and Enlightenment... as if the Greek-Persian wars, or those of ancient Rome, or the crusades or the Renaissance colonial wars in America had never happened. That's a tiny false note, though: overall this is a broad and moving anthology.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 24 Aug. 2014
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Laura Smith (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This is a really interesting book, consisting of diaries, letters, interviews etc with people who experiences the First World War. There is a wide range of subjects tackled, from a wide range of viewpoints, and each person brings something different to the table. It will make you laugh, it will make you smile, you will be filled with amazement and you will cry. Everything is touched here, the whole experience of war from soldiers to women left back home, and everyone else in between. It's a wonderful starting place for those interested in how war shapes lives.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poignant memories of The Great War., 5 Aug. 2014
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Ismay1012 - See all my reviews
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‘A Broken World’ is an anthology of non-fiction writing from the First World War, chosen and edited by the best-selling author Sebastian Faulks. The collection is extremely powerful and thought provoking, often very poignant as in the writing that spoke of ‘where there were once nine around the table, we were now reduced to one’. This is shocking and illuminated the concept of loss and despair, for this was one of the themes of the anthology.

The letters to and from home were often emotional, showing the hope for reunion, whilst underlying the thought that this was not always likely, likewise the diary extracts.

I enjoyed reading this collection, some of which I had read in other books, while also feeling the isolation of separation. For these ordinary, every day people were thrust into a war they could never have comprehended, not them or their families waiting back at home. It saddened me as well, for all war is really futile. My own relative was lost to his family in this Great War, someone I would have known but never did. It brought it all home, the sacrifice, the bravery and the loss.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An unusual collection, 8 Oct. 2014
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An unusual collection of memoirs, letters and other writings gathered from those who served and those who did not. This book is not one to "get into" like a good novel but one to "dip into". I found it quite hard going at times and pondered over the reason for the inclusion of some of the material but it does serve to give a very wide spectrum of opinion on the events of 100 years ago and as such has a purpose and a place on the history shelves of Great War writings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best first world war anthology I have ever read and ..., 3 Dec. 2014
By 
I. W. Bennett - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War (Hardcover)
This is the best first world war anthology I have ever read and I have read many. The epigraph at the beginning of the book in the form of a poem is wonderful by a poet I,m ashamed to say I have never even heard of before; Amy Lowell. The accounts that follow in the rest of the book do not disappoint. I ordered this book from the library after reading the reviews, but had to buy my own copy before I had read halfway. marvellous!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant., 25 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War (Hardcover)
At my age, born at the very beginning of the thirties, the outcome of WWI is still sharp in my mind. The letters and diary entries are poignant and redolent of people that I knew while growing up. For anyone who wishes to encounter the war as described by those who experienced the sheer brutality or felt the impact vicariously then this book is a must.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One or two of the pieces are wonderful but it is too similar to other books on ..., 24 Sept. 2014
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A. J. S. White (Newmarket England) - See all my reviews
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One or two of the pieces are wonderful but it is too similar to other books on WW1 for me to heartily recommend - I am a great fan of Sebastian Faulkes' writing but I was a bit disappointed with this. One big plus is that it gives equal weight to non-British recollections
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let down., 1 Oct. 2014
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While the book was a good read I felt that it fell short of what I was expecting. I was really hoping for a lot more from this book but was really very disappointed. Its a good book, not a great book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars moving records, however, too fragmentary.. not ..., 5 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War (Hardcover)
moving records , however , too fragmentary .. not vey well structured . Nothing really new . A kind of inferior deivative of " Lost Voices of .. ( World War One and Two .... two volumes .
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A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War
A Broken World: Letters, diaries and memories of the Great War by Sebastian Faulks (Hardcover - 3 July 2014)
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