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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars School...War...Death
An extremely well researched book about a very controversial issue that very people....even those who consider themselves to be Great War enthusiasts...know too much about. The issue is examined from the perspective of the boys themselves, the officers who commanded them, the War Office, the small group of MPs who fought so hard to get these young boys "out of the firing...
Published 18 months ago by Maximus Petronius

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not for me; passed on to someone else
Published 4 months ago by Rev. David Musgrave


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars School...War...Death, 19 Jun 2013
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An extremely well researched book about a very controversial issue that very people....even those who consider themselves to be Great War enthusiasts...know too much about. The issue is examined from the perspective of the boys themselves, the officers who commanded them, the War Office, the small group of MPs who fought so hard to get these young boys "out of the firing line" and the parents of the boys. This is a very moving...and often heart rending...book and a fitting tribute to all the young boys who gave up everything they had (including for so many of them their lives) to serve their King & Country in that terrible conflict. This "must read" book would be a very worthy addition to anyone's personal library of books about the Great War.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, dispassionate and well worth a read., 24 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Boy Soldiers of the Great War (Paperback)
This was a very enjoyable read, well contextualized and able to hold my attention throughout. Sensitively written and containing a good balance of sources which were both informative and, in many cases, quite wonderfully evocative of the period. The book was much more than just an itemization or collection of personal stories. The social and political context within which these boys were deployed to the Western Front is examined thoughtfully. Their participation in Active Service Overseas is revealed in often harrowing detail. I think this book deserves a wide audience, not just because of the poignant nature of the subject but also because it would serve to inform many about an issue which has all too often been treated to a superficial and purely emotional response in the past. The problem of juveniles in the armed forces was, and remains to people with an interest in The Great War, a difficult and complex matter. Not only has the author treated us to many illuminating insights but has managed to do that in a clear and dispassionate way which never patronizes or demeans his subject. Lucid, informative and well written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation!, 7 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Boy Soldiers of the Great War (Paperback)
I had no idea about the boy soldiers of the First World War. I had been at a local Art Exhibition, there was an exhibit showing the Statue that has been placed at the Memorial Gardens in Staffordshire, it showed a 16 year old blindfold by a rag, as he waited to be shot by men in his troop. All of them had been given 'strong drink' by the Captain and the Padre the evening before.

I wanted to find out more.... The book is comprehensive, with lots of stories about the boys and their families. Strangely, given the subject is not morbid. In parts it is distressing, bringing home the awfulness of War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 22 Nov 2014
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This is a fascinating and well-researched account of the very large number of boy soldiers who fought and in many cases died during the First World War. It focuses on those who were boys by the military standards of the time, which said that no one under the age of 19 should be fighting overseas (in this context it is worth remembering that the age of majority at this time and for over fifty years afterwards was, of course, 21). During the early years of the war, the rule was routinely breached, as boys as young as 13 (in the extreme case of George Maher) enlisted, though the majority of underage boys enlisting were 16-17. They were motivated by a mixture of feelings: patriotism; peer pressure or guilt at not doing their bit; the bravado of extreme youth; the desire for adventure and excitement; or a simple escapism from humdrum everyday life - many recruits from poor backgrounds had a much better diet, exercise and a sense of purpose in the army. So how were they able to get away with enlisting so young, when it must have been obvious in many cases that they were not the age they claimed to be? A combination of reasons - simply lying so they could fulfill one or more of the motivations above, especially with boys who were strong or tall; manpower shortages in the pre-conscription phase meaning that anyone willing to fight and not obviously decrepit was not turned away; combined with the perverse incentive caused by the bonus that recruiting sergeants and doctors conducting medical examinations received for every recruit admitted.

Due to public and Parliamentary pressure (especially from the Liberal MP Sir Arthur Markham), the rules were gradually better enforced, so that those underage were not sent to fight, and those underage boys already out fighting were removed from the front line and kept in reserve in the rear until they were old enough; but these rules were still often flouted, partly because the flow of volunteers was erratic and would sometimes decline after news of appalling losses reached Britain (though it would rise again on occasions such as the sinking of the Lusitania or the execution of Edith Cavell. The introduction of conscription in January 1916 changed the situation, though even then many commanders on the spot preferred to keep an underage boy who had proved himself rather than take on a perhaps reluctant conscript. From mid 1917, very few underage boys enlisted as the rules were tightened and better enforced, though during the desperate German Spring offensive of 1918, boys of eighteen years and a few months old had to fight as part of the mighty effort to push the Germans back and ensure final victory.

Complete with photos of a number of the boys whose stories are movingly told threaded throughout the generally chronological narrative, this is an excellent book and surely the definitive modern guide to this aspect of the Great War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Turning a blind eye!, 13 Sep 2014
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A truely horrific account of patriotic young boys, who were inspired to "do their bit" by the news coming from the Front, but were systematically abused by Government and Army alike, into fighting and dying for their country, regardless of how old they were.
Many had been bullied and abused into joining up by some Recruiting Sergeants accosting them in the street, who were being rewarded for each recruit they made, so, this seemed to be a very lucrative business to those who appeared to disregard pleas of being under-age by these recruits, many as young as fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, but some as young as twelve, to apparently make money, regardless of Regulations that stated soldiers had to be at least nineteen before being allowed to fight abroad.
These were despite pleas from some parents, many of whom had no idea that their sons had joined up, and had also showed proof of their under-age sons, but many were ignored, either by elements of Government with platitudes, or, Army hieracy, who either ignored the pleas, or took their time in withdrawing those under-age, to extent that some of them had been killed before they could be removed from "harms way", and brought home.
The excuse was that these boys had joined up giving fraudulent information, had been trained and kitted out at great expense to the Country, so it was their fault of being where they were...!!
There appeared to be little "Common Sense" by many in a desperation to get as many recruits as possible, to fill the places of those who had been killed or maimed for life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boy Soldiers, 30 Dec 2012
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In depth study of a subject often passed over when reading about the first world war. Good views taken from the soldiers, both young and old, the parents and the governments view in parliament at the time. excellent read, highly recommended to anyone studying the history of the great war, and anyone looking for a good read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely a MUST read!, 20 Oct 2014
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This book is a must for all First World War readers.
Well written,very factual and very well researched. It really shows that politicians haven't changed much over the years as they encouraged under age boys to sign on despite the government policy at the time. That also goes for the senior army officers of the time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We will remember them, 29 April 2013
This review is from: Boy Soldiers of the Great War (Paperback)
A fascinating book on a largely forgotten issue from WW1. I was particularly interested to read this book as a great great uncle of mine enlisted underage upon the outbreak of the war. He tried first in London but eventually got accepted in Glasgow into the Royal Scots in August 1914 aged just 16 and within a few months was fighting in Belgium. He died still fighting with the same regiment nearly four years later in April 1918 - now aged 20. Like so many he has no known grave. As Van Emden points out you had to be 18 to enlist and 19 to serve overseas according to Army regulations. This book was able to give a real insight into what must have been his experience and I thank the author for this. It is interesting to note the MOD recruits 16 and 17 year olds into the armed forces today with written parental consent. Will we never learn?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class account, 31 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Boy Soldiers of the Great War (Paperback)
Excellent for my grandson studying ww1 also for his continued interest in things that really happened during signing up and in battle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Young Hero's - Every Man Jack of them, 19 Sep 2014
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An Interesting Book about a subject little covered in the past. Alot of people do not realise that there were many under 19's who fought in the trenches in the First World War. Some were as young as 14, and just about all were volunteers. Some were Sergeants before they were 18, and some won gallantry medals, and a great number were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. They were young hero's.
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Boy Soldiers of the Great War
Boy Soldiers of the Great War by Richard van Emden (Paperback - 8 Nov 2012)
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