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Fritz and Tommy: Across the Barbed Wire Hardcover – 5 Oct 2015
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About the Author
Peter Doyle is a scientist, military historian, and author. He is a Member of the British Commission on Military History and Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group. His previous books include" World War I in 100 Objects" and "World War II in Numbers." Robin Schafer is a German military historian. He is a member of the German association for military research and runs a genealogical research service, investigating the military careers of soldiers of the German armed forces."
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This isn't a book of grand strategies or international politics, instead it breaks the conflict down into what affected the men everyday in the trenches and behind the lines. Subjects covered include In the Field, Morale and wounds and deaths to name but three and because we hear how these things affected both sides at the same time it gives such a rounded understanding of the events these men endured and suffered.
It is such a moving book because as the same names crop up you start to like them and they endear themselves to you with their simple wants while suffering terrible events and then you see the sentence..."Lt.....was killed the day after writing this" and it brings home the slaughter and death these men faced daily.
It has a stunning selection of photographs throughout the book that bring the stories to life and also make for a beautiful looking book. 100 years after the war this book brings former antagonists together and shows that deep down under all the rhetoric and nationalism the men who fought the war were basically the same scared young men who wanted to make it back home in one piece.
In my opinion an important book!
A worthy addition to the steadily increasing English language literature on the German perspectives to the war, lead by Jack Sheldon and Christopher Duffy. Whereas those authors focus solely on the German perspective, here Peter Doyle and Robin Schafer combine the two.
There is perhaps no new narrative to the war here, but there are certainly new witness statements. The takeaway from this book is just how similar the war was experienced from both sides of the wire, certain foibles of language aside, if it was not for the references many would be indistinguishable from national perspectives.
My only niggle is that there is no indication as to what happened to the men quoted, though to be fair the authors note and explain this is due to the difficulty of ascertaining this information from German records, and that out of respect all men have been listed in alphabetical order with no reference to what happened. This certainly aligns with the equitable experiences demonstrated throughout the book, and so is just a personal curiosity.
Well recommended to serious scholars and those with just a passing interest in the experience of ordinary men on the western front.
This book basically tells the story of the First World War by printing letters originally sent by both British and German troops from the front back to their loved ones at home. It brings the war to life in a way other history books cannot, by using the human element to back up the facts. This makes the book unique as it will appeal to both history nuts and the casual reader alike.
The main lesson was that it was hell for both sides and courage, endurance and suffering was universal!