2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More than the title suggests,
This review is from: Great War Lives: A Guide for Family Historians (How Our Ancestors Lived) (Hardcover)
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.