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The British Soldier of the First World War (Shire Library) Paperback – 10 Apr 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd (10 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747806837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747806837
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 0.5 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 339,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Peter Doyle is a scientist and military historian specializing in the role of terrain in warfare. His books include: Tommy's War 1914-1918; Beneath Flanders Fields: The Underground War 1914-18 and Grasping Gallipoli. He is co-secretary of the All Party Parliamentary War Graves and Battlefield Heritage Group, and is an elected member of the British Commission for Military History. He lives in London.


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Format: Paperback
For a small book this carries a surprising breadth and wealth of information. Doyle uses a framework of chronology to organise his survey of the material culture of World War One, which examines the tools, weapons, uniforms and insignia of the soldier, some of the forms, documents, postcards, posters, and goes on to include photographs, personal items, medals and examples of trench art.

The book aims to help people interpret "fragments of memory", but manages to go beyond this, to give a concentrated view of the way British people, soldiers, families and the War Office, produced a material culture that continues to communicate some of the experience of the First World War. The book begins with a well-known silhouette photograph of Tommies moving up to the Front. In attempting to "resolve those silhouettes into an image of a fighting soldier at war" the book also contextualises the soldier within the attitudes and activities of a country supporting its soldiers while not fully comprehending their often uncommunicable experience.

As well as using postcards and cartoons to show some of the ways that soldiers managed to deal with their condition, the book also points out some of the ways in which the soldiers were let down, by some aspects of their uniforms and equipment, and particularly by the treatment they received after the war. For many the heroes' welcome received from family and friends was matched officially by a set of uninspiring medals and little prospect of employment.
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Format: Paperback
When this lousy war is over

I pose the question are there any duff title in the Shire Library?

They are great little books at only 56 pages but they are stuffed full of information. The author has created a logic by dividing the chapter into joining the colours, in the trenches, at rest to being demobilised.

It is a guide to the life of the poor bloody infantry,Plenty of black and white and colour photographs of uniforms, badges medals and memorabilia

My dad served in the second world war but on page 13 I have photo of my dad after his basic training in his RAF uniform that is the dead spit of a First world ward soldier with his bayonet and rifle. So not a lot of changes took place between the war.

Equipment and tactics develop rapidly as the war goes on so by the end of the war usually the soldiers are dressed entirely differently

90 years on and the first world war has become an important historical event so more and more are studying it. I have been to the Western Front many times but there is always something new to learn and this is a great little book.

I bought my copy just outside the Menin gate in Ypres.
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Format: Paperback
This book was a very interesting introduction to the life of the British Soldier in WW1.
Having just returned from a trip to the WW1 Battlefields in France, this provided excellent further reading both for myself and my children who are currently studying the subject, at school.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a useful introduction to the 'Tommy'. I've read a few books on different subjects from Shire and they always give me what I expected - short overviews, without feeling condensed or selective. A good starting point to follow further reading.
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At 56 pages, this is not a very long book. It concisely conveys enough information to be worth the money, however; despite its brevity, it doesn't feel like a skim. There's a fairly comprehensive list of further reading, if you are so inspired, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be, because it covers the material with no real "butchers" or "apologist" slant on a period of history that often evokes one or the other. The subject is neatly divided into the various common experiences every Tommy would have faced - joining up & training, in the trenches, rest, being demobbed. Finally, production values are very high. It's glossily produced, lavishly illustrated, and densely packed. Where there isn't text, there are illustrations and, oh joy, those; period, modern, posters, drawings; are likely to be mostly new to you unless you are very widely read on WWI!
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Format: Paperback
This book is a great starting point for researching the Tommies of the First World War.

It contains detailed examples of uniforms, vehicles, weapons and other parts of the army's uniform, equipment etc. of the period.

A very thin book, that could stand to be a big thicker with more content, but as a quick reference or a starting point, this book is highly recommended.

I'd advise purchasing this book alongside other books about WWI, as it does a good job of providing context and gives you an idea of the tommy 'experience', good to have in mind when reading about the events of the war at large.
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Format: Paperback
An excellent introduction to the recruitment, training, equipment and conditions for the British soldier in the Great War. Another good short book from Shire. Recommended.
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