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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotional selection of modern war poetry, 19 Nov 2011
This review is from: Heroes: 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets (Hardcover)
Heroes, 100 Poems from the New Generation of War Poets. Edited by John Jeffries
This book is exactly as described in the title. It contained 100 poems covering various aspects of war. A large number of submissions were made in response to a call for poems for inclusion. A selection panel of 4, each individually rated all those poems and the scores collated to produce the final book. A fairly mammoth task for those on the panel, as it meant reading and scoring over 250 poems.
The panel was made up of the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy; the presenter of Radio 4's Poetry Please, Simon Rae; General Sir Richard Dannatt and the editor himself, Captain John Jeffries, formerly of the Coldstream Guards. As you would expect there were difference in ratings between the poets and the soldiers and such it became a balance between "poetic quality and integrity of experience", as it a selection of War Poems, integrity won the day in some cases.
The poems come from a variety of writers, Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as from wives, mothers and children. The time in uniform of those service and ex-servicemen varies from World War 2 to the present day including submissions from those currently in Afghanistan.
Despite this range, the sentiments expressed within many of these poems will be familiar to any who have ever read any War poetry from the First World War. The themes that have caused soldiers to put pen to paper have not changed in a hundred year. There is perhaps more expressions of loss of comrades than in First World War poetry that probably is due to cultural shift. The timelessness of many of the poems would mean that they could quite easily be read beside Sassoon or Owen without seeming out of place
The Poems are split into 4 sections, Leaving, Active Service, Coming Home and Remembrance. This itself must have been a difficult task for the editor as many of the Poems in the Active Service section could easily sit within the Remembrance section as they deal with the loss of colleagues.
The wars covered in this book are mainly Iraq and Afghanistan, however there is a sizable portion reflecting on Northern Ireland, with a few from Bosnia, Falklands and the Second World War. There are poems written from the front line and as expected a couple that makes a pop at those well behind the lines, again not a new subject for War Poems!
The vividness and descriptiveness of some of the works is intense and have obviously been written by those who have personally experienced what they are writing about. It would be wrong for me to highlight those that I think are the best are that would be purely a personal choice, those with different experiences would probably choose different preferences.
The ordering of the poems in this volume seems to be sensible as it takes the reader through in a natural order and as such to read it through is easy though can be an emotional journey. It is also suitable for dipping in and out of, perhaps a better option that subjecting yourself to 100 emotional poems one after another!
There are no overly long poems in this book, the majority fit onto a single page, with a few making it onto more. This helps with the readability of the poems and should make it easier for those not used to reading poetry.
The highest impacting poems in this book to me are two poems on adjacent pages, the first from a wounded officer, the second written by his eleven year old daughter. Two different viewpoints of the same situation and both put very well.
As would be expected from this sort of book, money raised from this book will go towards the Army Benevolent Fund.
I must admit to having a liking for War Poetry in general and as such this sits well on my bookcase amongst many other books of similar content. There has been talk recently about modernising school curriculum for English Language, I would see no reason why a collection such as this could not be studied. It is modern, relevant and hard hitting. Perhaps the poems are not by established poets but that does not mean that they are not emotional and hard hitting.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Nov 2011 19:39:11 GMT
An extremely comprehensive review, for which many thanks. I will be purchasing the book. God Bless our troops.

Posted on 13 Mar 2012 16:57:11 GMT
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and giving readers some idea of the content of this book.
It was excellently written with much insight. I will be buying this book.
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