Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perspective that should not be unheard nor forgotten., 16 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of the Great War: A New History of WWI in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There (Forgotten Voices/the Great War) (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this book very much and I think it accomplished everything which it had aimed to do - namely to give the people who lived and died through the war a voice.

Whilst other historical books give a great overview of why, where, when, what, whom and how the war happened, this book gives a great insight to the lived experiences of those who were alive during this time. In that respect whilst this book doesn't analyse the war, and neither does it set out to, it offers very raw knowledge which other books can't possible emulate. Even though we know the conditions in the trenches were terrible, it feels completely different when reading a person's account of what it was like for them. It makes the history feel more personal, more alive and thus has a greater lasting impression.

I should also add that whilst the majority of the accounts in the book are from British and, much later, American soldiers, there are several French and German memories as well. A fair amount of civilian tales are also included, which I was not suspecting, that beautifully portray the day to day life of British woman and their own challenges, as well as the pressures on young men(and children...) to enlist.

The quality of the tales are very high. It says a lot about the type of conflict many experienced that even years on, the accounts are so detailed and vivid. When reading the stories of survivors you are constantly visualising everything. Those with an interest in the war will no doubt be completely absorbed by the material in this book.

Putting aside the quality of the material for one moment, the author has done a fantastic job of compiling the information into a chronological order. It is done with such skill that even though many people contribute to the text, it flows naturally and logically as everything is categorised and ordered wonderfully. Done so well in fact, that it is easily overlooked.

Finally I would just like to add that this is not a book comprised simply of complete sorrow and sadness. People living at the time were not so one dimensional and this is reflected in the accounts given. Despite the horrendous backdrop that everyone reading this will be well aware of, there are many strands of pride, duty, honour, joy, comradeship, togetherness and yes, even some happiness that run through this book alongside the more usual emotions associated with war. There are humorous accounts which made me laugh out loud and giggle, and some deeply deeply moving accounts that made my eyes well up with tears and cause me to pause in reading.

Anyone with even a slight interest in the war would gain so much from reading these accounts. A huge thank you to the author and contributors who have made such a memorable read and made the history of almost a hundred years ago(!) feel so alive, immediate and real.
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Location: Worcester

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