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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Document' is an over-used term..
..but I think that this compendium fits that description. The original editor , in about 1930, asked for contributions of a limited length from veterans and was surprised at the quality of the responses. The fact that these submissions were made by people who were still young and for whom events were still fresh adds something extra. These were a selection of men and...
Published on 8 Jun 2010 by Paul Owen

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars light but good
This is a different type of book. It relates to interviews conducted during the thirties with members of the armed forces. It provides a good spread of experiences and because the interviews took place while the events were still fresh in the minds of the people who were involved, it provides a realistic view. However, against this you must weigh that these were articles...
Published on 2 Oct 2009 by P. Kennedy


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Document' is an over-used term.., 8 Jun 2010
By 
Paul Owen (Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
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..but I think that this compendium fits that description. The original editor , in about 1930, asked for contributions of a limited length from veterans and was surprised at the quality of the responses. The fact that these submissions were made by people who were still young and for whom events were still fresh adds something extra. These were a selection of men and women who felt that they had something to say.

For the most part, the entries describe an isolated incident or short sequence of events without attempting to be a set of memoirs. This works surprisingly well and more than a few of the writers show really show some talent.
Many scenes are vividly evoked.

Another reviewer compared this to airport reading. While I think this book is a bit more important than that , I have to say that I have been reading a couple of chapters a day on my daily 15-20 minute train journey.

The main criticism is the decision to place the stories in a very rigid and unimaginative order. First of all come stories of the Infantry in France (in chronological order), then the Middle East, then war in the air, then women's accounts and finally the Navy. Because the first group is by far the largest and shows a timeline from 1914 to the Armistice, it's jarring to have to go back to the start of war again in the Middle East.

Good advice might to dip in randomly. The chapters are short enough to make this an option.

Recommended to the military historian and to anyone interested in some genuinely interesting human-interest stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reading, 28 Oct 2011
This is a superb book written when the memories of the participants were still reasonably fresh, twelve years after the armistice. I have re-read my copy several times and it never becomes boring. It is however very dark and depressing in places which isn`t surprising considering the circumstances. At times it reads like a horror book, and more than once has made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. The normal human qualities exhibited during war still come through such as bravery, self sacrifice, fear etc., but what stands out the most is the feeling of hopelessness and a resignation to the fact that most people felt they were doomed once they entered that hell, along with the belief that the war would go on until the end of time.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars light but good, 2 Oct 2009
By 
P. Kennedy - See all my reviews
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This is a different type of book. It relates to interviews conducted during the thirties with members of the armed forces. It provides a good spread of experiences and because the interviews took place while the events were still fresh in the minds of the people who were involved, it provides a realistic view. However, against this you must weigh that these were articles which were published in the press and hence could be a little "sanitized". Overall, light airport reading that can be dipped into and out of at will.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A little dated in style, but..., 16 Jan 2014
By 
Mr M.R.Watkinson (Norfolk, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The chiefest point of interest in this not uninteresting book is that it is not only a reprint of a 1930's volume, but the first ever "eye-witness" collection, a genre grown popular in recent years, especially given the likes of The Forgotten Voices series & various Richard van Emden books. It was not the first ever eyewitness account of WWI or life at the front (that honour may fall to C.E.Montague's Disenchantment), and there were several other notable volumes (such as Graves' Goodbye To All That) published right at the end of the 20's. No-one, though, had attempted to collect a variety of accounts from a variety of individuals. It would be over 40 years before the Imperial War Museum thought to start its Sound Archive...

Its origins lie not in interviews, as one reviewer says, but with the Editor of the Everyman magazine (by the same publisher as the library of books under that title), C.B.Purdom. He invited readers to write their own brief accounts (not more than 3000 words) of experiences in the war. Within weeks he had over 300, of which the "best" 60 were selected for publication in the original edition. Best, of course, is a subjective judgement; I can't help but wonder if the other 240+ are still extant anywhere!

The editor says in his Introduction that "'Good writing' was not expected", that "the bulk of the manuscripts were plain statements of fact", and that "the amount of literary effort was remarkably small". A modern reader may be inclined to disagree. The world in those days; without even national radio, let alone TV; was a more literary one. If you didn't go out, you read. Thus, if you could read at all, you were likely to be quite capable of writing, and the style at the time, if you've ever read anything from the early 20thC, is still very formal compared to our own times, if not as florid or ornate as in the days of Victoria. It is very different in tone from more modern accounts, or accounts based on interviews such as those held by the IWM.

As long as that doesn't put you off (& it oughtn't to), you'll find this an excellent & interesting book. The nature of it, with 60 contributors, makes it ideal to dip into & out of. As the editor himself sadly noted, there was little received from the Navy. Nevertheless, the accounts are varied. You've every branch of the services, all theatres of war, and the entire period covered by at least one piece. You've experiences of retreats, attacks, trench raids, scouting in no-man's land, or working in the Labour Corps; evacuating Suvla Bay, jumping from a shot-down observation balloon, being torpedoed, and a story of a WAAC soldier. I've criticised some other books of this type for their surprising narrowness of selection on occasion; not this one. There's only one minor criticism to make of it, and that's a number of typo's. As this is a revised & updated edition, not a simple facsimile, it's a little disappointing they've not been edited out / allowed to creep in. I'm also slightly puzzled why this is credited to Jon E.Lewis, since he is mentioned nowhere in the book, or on the cover!

Overall, any faults in the book, or the question of style, are far too minor points to make me rate it at less than it deserves. Within the limited gradations of a 5* ranking, it is worth the full five.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed it thoroughly, 26 April 2014
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
Good read lots of insights and fascinating stories really enjoyed it wish there were mire out there if your not sure...do it it's worth every penny
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First Class, 31 Mar 2014
By 
Michael Humphrey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
A really first class read from men who fought in the great war. My only criticism was the stories told were with hindsight and obviously critical of those in authority.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the Front Line, 16 Feb 2014
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
The book provided a fascinating kaleidoscope of experiences from those who served in World War 1. It provides a clear impression of the real face of war unadorned by jingoism. The book would be invaluable to any reader wanting a true impression of what the war was like.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very moving accounts, 24 Jan 2014
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
The horrors of war from the people who had to fight and suffer in it. An excellent selection that should be taught to today's children so they understand why there is a remembrance day
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 23 Jan 2014
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic read, seeing that we will be hearing a lot more about this conflict over the next 4 years, this really puts into perspective what these guys went through on a day to day basis, the terrible conditions and the calm realisation that death could come upon them at any time, but still they pushed on with whatever was asked of them..

I know there are still terrible wars being fought at this present time, but the sheer numbers of soldiers that were wounded and killed every single day in this conflict is mind boggling.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: On the Front Line: True World War I Stories (Kindle Edition)
Fascinating , terrifying, awe inspiring.....how any of them lived through it is beyond understanding. An absolutely horrifying time in our history
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