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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the title suggests
Paul Reed will be well known to many visitors to this website from his excellent tour guides "Walking the Somme" and "Walking Arras" and from his regular TV work on both First and Second World War subjects. In "Great War Lives" he brings together twelve stories of individuals who served in the British forces in 1914-1918 and the methods by which he researched them...
Published on 6 Dec. 2010 by Chris Baker

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable effort, unreasonable price
As with all Great War history published now, a fresh angle needs to be found because of the sheer volume of work that has gone before it. Great War lives attempts this by focussing on individual stories with a run down at the end of each chapter as to how the research was achieved. Some of the stories are interesting and engaging as there is a lot of detail about the...
Published on 9 Jan. 2011 by 11 Group


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the title suggests, 6 Dec. 2010
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Chris Baker "The Long, Long Trail man" (Leamington Spa, UK) - See all my reviews
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Paul Reed will be well known to many visitors to this website from his excellent tour guides "Walking the Somme" and "Walking Arras" and from his regular TV work on both First and Second World War subjects. In "Great War Lives" he brings together twelve stories of individuals who served in the British forces in 1914-1918 and the methods by which he researched them.

"Great War Lives" does not offer a step-by-step or in-depth guide to researching a serviceman but the advice is excellent, up to date and will inspire many people to have a try. It is refreshing to see that the author - who has long had an important presence on websites and discussion forums - is not afraid to promote the use of the internet as a research medium, although he wisely recommends that the information found should usually be treated with some caution.

The twelve personal stories are well chosen and cover much ground: there are soldiers, marines and airmen; officers and rankers; the dead and the survivors. As such their stories require a researcher to draw upon a wide variety of sources of information, and Paul Reed explains at the end of each chapter what sources were needed and where they can be found. He also demonstrates that there is more to unearth even for men whose stories have been told before, such as the tunneller William Hackett VC and the poet Ivor Gurney. I always enjoy reading tales of men who served and thoroughly enjoyed the book.

For anyone might be encouraged to examine a soldier's military career, "Great War Lives" provides valuable advice, but it is more than that and offers an absorbing insight into men's lives, troubles, triumphs and, in some cases, their deaths in action.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Guide to Accessing Great War Archives, 2 Jan. 2011
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I have read Great War Lives by Paul Reed and highly recommend this well researched volume to anyone interested in researching their forefathers who fought in World War One or who are generally interested in this horrific period in the history of mankind. This book is an essential guide for the genealogist and provides ...invaluable information in listing the documents available in the various archives. The book uses the information from these sources to tell the stories of twelve men who took part in WW1. It intermingles facts of these individual soldiers within the narrative of the battles they fought, showing what they had to endure, how it would affect them after the war and if they paid the ultimate sacrifice, how it affected their bereaved families and their local communities. Congratulations to Paul Reed for producing this excellent book.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable effort, unreasonable price, 9 Jan. 2011
As with all Great War history published now, a fresh angle needs to be found because of the sheer volume of work that has gone before it. Great War lives attempts this by focussing on individual stories with a run down at the end of each chapter as to how the research was achieved. Some of the stories are interesting and engaging as there is a lot of detail about the individual involved, however, others are padded with detail about the general circumstances in which the individual found himself. This all works reasonably well, but does not justify the cover price of the book at £19.99, for this money you would expect a far more substantial work, unless you are specifically looking for advice on researching your ancestors role in the Great War, which is undoubtedly the book's selling point. The book loses a star on the basis of the price.

There are any number of excellent titles which offer a more in depth and better written analysis of the individuals experience during the war, for example "Tommy" by Richard Holmes, Malcolm Brown's "Tommy goes to War" or any of Lyn MacDonald's seminal works which are also cheaper to buy. It is a tough call writing an original First World War history as so much has been said already and it must be tempting to churn out yet another "Voices from..." effort. This book doesn't quite fall into this category as there is an earnestness in the writing and I think the book has been produced for the right reasons, however, caution has to be excercised when producing books new to the canon of the Great War there is a danger of making points and drawing conclusions that that have already been expressed eloquently and many times before.
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