on 14 April 2011
This is possibly the best introduction to the social history of World War I in Britain currently available. It's exceedingly well researched, engagingly well written, and the author is not afraid of taking a definite stand on certain issues. The chapter exploring whether there was such a thing as "war enthusiasm" in August and September 1914 is especially eye-opening, and symptomatic of the way in which Gregory confronts -- and questions -- existing orthodoxies with evidence and a shrewd independence of mind. Anyone interested in WWI, whether a general reader, a student, or an academic, will gain a good deal by reading this.
on 14 August 2013
I would rate this as among the best history books I have read on any period.
Adrian Gregory has a real mastery of his sources.a shrewd historical judgement and an appealing touch of humour, and he combines all these to great effect. So he includes diary entries without getting merely anecdotal and deals with statistics without losing the human element. He integrates the home front with the fighting front (reminding us of what war histories often make us forget, that people at home were also part of the war). He doesn't just concentrate on London or the political and intellectual elites. He manages to deal with the subtle differences between the nations of the UK, and regions within the nations in their response to war. Not to mention different classes and occupations.
There is so much here to make you think about the Great War differently. As with a lot of writing about the Great War in recent years, there is a conscious attempt to undo the misconceptions sown by 'Oh What a Lovely War' and Blackadder. Though Gregory goes further and puts some of the blame for myth-making at the feet of the war poets, especially Sassoon. How much of popular understanding of the Great War in Britain comes from the fact that children are introduced to it by English teachers by way of the war poets, rather than by historians? Just one of the fascinating questions he raises.
I particularly appreciated the attention he gave to religious belief and practice, how religious imagery and language was drawn into the war effort and how the experience of war impacted on belief and practice. He avoids easy generalisations or guesses, and is careful not to read the attitudes of the 1930's back into wartime. I came away with a lot to think about.
If you want a superbly well-informed and judiciously analysed account of how Britain and Ireland coped with the Great War, read this book.
on 20 April 2009
Well written; has a very honest approach to the subject and looks at the Great War from an interesting angle - not the usual blood, guts and heros.
I asked both of my teenage daughters to read the book; they are very modern misses and definately not book worms. Most reluctant at first, they both took to it and completed within a few days and have asked for other books on the subject.