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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fateful Year: England 1914
“Never such innocence, Never before or since”

There are, of course a great pile of books coming out this year about 1914, and the Great War. This book offers a panoramic view of the year itself in England, following the doings of the year largely chronologically, and by doing so offering us one hundred years later the opportunity to try and see how...
Published 4 months ago by Keen Reader

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grasshopping
Clearly written to tie in with the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, “The Fateful Year England 1914” reminds me as regards format of Bill Bryson’s “One Summer: America 1927”. The “helicopter” approach may surprise you with all the events that were occurring simultaneously, although the author’s selection is...
Published 5 months ago by Antenna


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fateful Year: England 1914, 28 Mar 2014
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
“Never such innocence, Never before or since”

There are, of course a great pile of books coming out this year about 1914, and the Great War. This book offers a panoramic view of the year itself in England, following the doings of the year largely chronologically, and by doing so offering us one hundred years later the opportunity to try and see how life was for the people of 1914, and how and why and when it changed, and what it meant for them individually and as a people.

We, with hindsight may know the beginning and end dates of this war; how many people were killed, injured, displaced; how Europe and indeed the world changed for ever; how the way in which this war was fought changed the face of military actions – but the people living in England (and the rest of the world) in 1914 did not. The English started the year with reports of a young boy found dead on a train; with scandals over the behaviour of suffragettes; with tales of daring young men in their flying machines broaching the skies. Not until the outbreak of war in August did many even realise there was a situation in Europe that could potentially lead to this outcome. For many, I suspect, the reality of war didn’t really register until in December 1914 when German warships bombarded Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby – these East Coast raids killed 118 and wounded about 200. Spies, recruitment, disbelief, hoarding, ignorance, patriotism, cowardice – these became the new realities of the time.

I found this book most enlightening; the shift in English people from the beginning of the year to the end, where war was ‘real’ and people were dying; where the impact of the war was starting to hit home to every family in every part of the country; and where the idea of this being a short war which would be ‘over by Christmas’ had faded. Who knew how long such a war, so much more destructive and deadly than any previous, could drag on? The author has cleverly blended the use of issues relating to a person or group of people and then broadening it in each chapter to incorporate the viewpoint of England – the action of a suffragette becomes the issue of suffragettes together; the issue of a village having trouble with a teacher becomes a discussion about labour and trade unions. A most interesting book, and well written; I recommend this to anyone looking to get a better understanding of the social history of England in 1914 and the beginning of the Great War.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait of England in 1914, 6 Jan 2014
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Fateful Year: England 1914 (Kindle Edition)
This latest book by Mark Bostridge is a superb follow up to his book on Vera Brittain.It tells a fascinating tale of the England of 1914,an England that is not quite as idyllic as sometimes painted.

The book recounts events like the disappearance of the aviator Hamel over the Channel;he was said to be a German spy despite his British public education and connections with our Royal Family; the blazing argument between HG Wells and Bernard Shaw; the rash of strikes that broke out, in all over 1000; the suffragette movement; Irish Home Rule and the bombs that fell on a number of northern coastal towns.
In brief, he tells a story of life as it really was for the different social classes in 1914.

Thus we read of suffragettes armed with axes, school children coming out on strike in support of teachers. There are many excellent photographs, for example of a typical August Bank Holiday,and the Laundry staff in Acton, the laundry capital of West London. He describes the all too typical weather,and fashion. Mark describes the reaction to the outbreak of war, a war that had 'managed to creep up on the British people'. He has a splendid analysis of Larkin's famous poem 'MCMXIV',with its famous lines, 'Never such innocence....'.

It is an easy and engrossing read that destroys the familiar romantic image of an idyllic time on the eve of war. The myth of a lost Eden is finally laid to rest.
The author makes clear that his book ls not a 'formal history'.instead it aims to capturè the spirit and shape of 1914 before the country entered a world war.

Strongly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grasshopping, 18 Feb 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Clearly written to tie in with the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, “The Fateful Year England 1914” reminds me as regards format of Bill Bryson’s “One Summer: America 1927”. The “helicopter” approach may surprise you with all the events that were occurring simultaneously, although the author’s selection is inevitably somewhat arbitrary. Everyone is likely to learn something different from the book: in my case, about the “strike schools” where, influenced by the high level of industrial unrest, pupils protested against dogmatic and repressive school boards or about the slashing of “The Rokeby Venus” along with other works of art by militant suffragettes. The photographs of the period are also interesting.

On the other hand, I found the coverage too fragmented and superficial. The decision to devote an early chapter to a highly publicised murder of the day struck me as a rather crude and unnecessary hook (Bryson does the same), whereas the complex but less exciting topic of resistance to Irish Home Rule was so condensed as to be hard to follow. The chapter “Premonitions” is particularly bitty, in its “catch all” attempt to skate over evidence of increased anti-German feeling, fed by the press and Erskine Childers’ “The Riddle of the Sands”’, Hardy’s anti-war “Channel-Firing” poem, Holst’s composing of “Mars, The Bringer of War” and the aggression of the Vorticists. The seven chapters of Section 3 on the effects of the war in England are the most cohesive and fully developed, but out of kilter with the rest of the format.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collage that comes together to present a convincing overall picture, 12 Mar 2014
I was in two minds about this book as I read through. Its cherry picking approach, tackling specific episodes and themes in 1914 England to the exclusion of others, at times felt rather fragmented. But this tight focus on only particular topics has its own strengths, allowing more colourful period detail to come through than might be the case in a more sweeping study. By the end everything seemed to have slipped into place and the book felt much more than the sum of its parts. The advent of war halfway through perhaps helped by providing a natural focus.

I thought a great strength was how the author let the voices of individual people shine through, quoting extensively from letters and diaries up and down the social scale. You get a real feel for real people's opinions and uncertainties as the year unfolded.
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5.0 out of 5 stars eXCELLENT READ, 2 Jun 2014
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I am really enjoying this book. Informative and entertainingly written. This book has exceeded my expectations and I thoroughly recommend this to history lovers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Biography of a year, 24 April 2014
This is a fascinating book. Because of the momentous happening in 1914 we rarely hear about other happenings. This gives us a social history of the year that was interrupted by the war. I felt that the balance was just right and enjoyed reading several individual stories. I hope Mark Bostridge will write about the rest of the conflict in a similar way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 17 April 2014
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This review is from: The Fateful Year: England 1914 (Kindle Edition)
A fascinating insight into the social and political climate in 1914, leading up to and heading into the First World War. No golden summer at all, as it turns out.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Fateful Year: England 1914 (Kindle Edition)
There is much to be read about this terrible war and it's horrific cost in human lives. This excellent book deals with much more. These were difficult times when national politics was absorbed with women's suffrage and Irish problems. A picture is also painted of life in general, such as the opening of Shaw's Pygmalion in the West End. Everyone knew that for years Germany had been building up its military capability but there was a definite somnambulance, over a hot summer, as our nation suddenly found itself at war. A remarkable book, slightly long winded, at times, but well worth a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative study of the state of the nation on the eve of war, 2 Mar 2014
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Insightful account of Great Britain on the eve of war, particularly the social/cultural issues amid the political/international tensions that have been admirably documented in other studies. A fascinating opening chapter on a grisly murder was the highlight of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant View of A Year of Contrasts, 26 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Fateful Year: England 1914 (Kindle Edition)
This is an excellent book that gives both a micro and macro look at the year 1914 in England. Bostridge masterfully charts the progress of this pivotal year which starts with activities of the militant suffragettes and troubles in Ireland as well as a domestic murder who done it and moves inextricably to the looming clouds of war and then shows how everything became focused on the war effort in those first months of the bloodiest war to end all wars. Bostridge gives several views of this year from different social and cultural perspectives. Excellent notes and references for further exploration. Highly recommend.
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