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The best of its kind I have read so far,
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This review is from: The Soldier's War: The Great War Through Veterans' Eyes (Paperback)
Forgive me if I compare a lot with the 3 Forgotten Voices books that are fully or partially about WWI. Let it be said, right at the start, this is the superior book. The universal fault of the FV series is that they print their photo's on ordinary paper. Here, they are printed on decent quality paper. This is just as well, as many of the photo's in this book are not of the best quality to start with. This is not a criticism; far from it. Barring one studio shot, all of the many photo's in this book were taken by serving soldiers (some of them German) on pocket cameras, and have never been published before. Any faults in quality, then, are entirely forgiveable.
The author states that he has used a variety of written testimony. However, many passages are in first person past-tense, and read as though they are transcribed interviews, possibly even audio. The FV series limited itself to the contents of audio archive of the Imperial War Museum, which was disappointing when it came to the VC book - more than half the VCs ever awarded were won in WWI, but there are disproportionately few accounts in the book because there are fewer accounts in the archive. Whether or not the author has used audio as well as written testimony, the fact is he hasn't artificially limited himself, and the selection of accounts is varied and uniformly excellent. As much of his material is also either never before published, or not widely published, there is little, if anything, that I have read before; another plus.
Finally, the title tells you exactly what the book is - it's the soldiers' war. Not the Navy, or the airmen; there's no German or French testimony here either. In actual fact, this is more limited in scope than the FV Great War book, which does include French & German accounts, and some civilians too. But that book is misleadingly titled; with a brief sidestep to Gallipoli, it focuses entirely on the Western Front armies, which was rather disappointing. Whilst I've no regrets at adding the FV series to my bookshelf (the FV Somme book is the one that comes closest to this in standard), this is much the best book of any of them. If you're only going to buy one book of the soliders' own testimony as to their experiences of WWI, it should, without any doubt, be this one.