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The Great Silence by [Nicolson, Juliet]
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The Great Silence Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Length: 400 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'This masterful book collects random details and somehow manages to orchestrate them into a symphony. Nicolson is particularly brilliant at plucking out the significant detail within the apparently ephemeral. The Great Silence works beautifully as a mosaic of a country at a particular time, artfully constructed from ... extraordinary details ... truly poignant ... piercingly beautiful ' (Mail on Sunday)

'Juliet Nicolson's second book of social history confirms her as one of those writers...who can spin straw into gold...she takes us on a cacophonous journey across the British landscape with the volume turned up high...an intoxicating peep-show of post-war society' (Evening Standard)

'Nicolson writes with such admirable pace and fluency that it would be easy to suppose it had been effortlessly scribbled down. It is, on the contrary, a triumph of balance and organisation; a study which comprehends the cultural and the intellectual, the political and the social, and weaves them all into a lively and convincing narrative' (The Spectator)

'Juliet Nicolson, a sensitive chronicler of the era' (Literary Review)

'Overlaying many testimonies, Nicolson builds a nuanced portrait of a nation facing a changed world' (Books Quarterly)

'A book that is so full of feeling and intelligence and interest: the densely detailed, overwhelmingly sad story of a country with a broken heart' (Daily Mail)

'Nicolson is adept at evoking the atmosphere of a fleeting historical phase...her narrative is a kaleidoscope of different voices...the result is a poignant slice of miscro-history' (Daily Express)

'Filled with anecdote and human detail, The Great Silence is a moving study of Britons finding ways to recover from the terrible wounds the War had inflicted.' (The Sunday Times)

'Nicolson has opened the door onto a time of misery, introspection and change' (Lancashire Evening Post)

'Nicolson writes well and thoughtfully' (Sunday Telegraph)

'The strength of the book lies in the sensitivity and skill with which the private lives and relationships of the protagonists are recounted. Nicolson writes fluently and paces her narrative expertly' (BBC History Magazine)

'This detailed account of that period is both fascinating and lucidly written' (The Daily Telegraph)

Review

Juliet Nicolson examines a much overlooked period of history. She painstakingly recounts how those who had stayed at home came to terms with a brutally changed world in the aftermath of the first world war and how the returning soldiers struggled to cope with the horrors they faced -- Elizabeth Day, Observer Praise for The Perfect Summer:'As page-turning as a novel ' -- Joanna Trollope, Guardian 'There is an unpretentious directness about Nicolson's approach to her subjects that gives the book a freshness and vitality. Happily, she also has an eye for the amusing or the ironic' -- Scotsman 'A fascinating read' -- Mail on Sunday 'Thoroughly entertaining ... full of memorable detail' -- Spectator 'The strength of the book lies in the sensitivity and skill with which the private lives and relationships of the protagonists are recounted. Nicolson writes fluently and paces her narrative expertly' -- BBC History Magazine 'Nicolson writes well and thoughtfully' -- Sunday Telegraph 'Nicolson has opened the door onto a time of misery, introspection and change' -- Lancashire Evening Post Praise for The Perfect Summer:'As page-turning as a novel ' -- Joanna Trollope, Guardian 'There is an unpretentious directness about Nicolson's approach to her subjects that gives the book a freshness and vitality. Happily, she also has an eye for the amusing or the ironic' -- Scotsman 'A fascinating read' -- Mail on Sunday 'Thoroughly entertaining ... full of memorable detail' -- Spectator 'The strength of the book lies in the sensitivity and skill with which the private lives and relationships of the protagonists are recounted. Nicolson writes fluently and paces her narrative expertly' -- BBC History Magazine 'Nicolson writes well and thoughtfully' -- Sunday Telegraph 'Nicolson has opened the door onto a time of misery, introspection and change' -- Lancashire Evening Post 'This detailed account of that period is both fascinating and lucidly written' -- The Daily Telegraph 20100605 'Juliet Nicolson examines a much overlooked period of history. She painstakingly recounts how those who had stayed at home came to terms with a brutally changed world in the aftermath of the First World War and how the returning soldiers struggled to cope with the horrors they faced' -- Observer, Great Poolside page-turners 20100605 'A fascinating read' -- Observer 20100605 'I devoured it ... It's a wonderfuly written book about the aftermath of the First World War with something I didn't know on every page' -- Barry Humphries, Sun Tel Christmas books 20100605

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 928 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (12 Nov. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003MVZEZK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #184,432 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Great Silence" is Juliet Nicholson's second book, after publishing "The Perfect Summer" in 2007. The first book was a social history of that glorious summer of 1911, the first summer after the ending of the Victorian and Edwardian ages.

With "Silence", Nicholson has returned with a meticulously written view of the two years in England after the end of "The Great War" in 1918. British soldiers returned after demob to their homes but in many cases, their lives would never be the same after four years in the trenches in France. So many men - who had marched gaily off to war in 1914 - had been killed or badly wounded, both in body and in spirit. So many women lost their sons, husbands, brothers, and fathers. An entire generation of young men were decimated in the four years of war.

Nicholson writes about all strata of British society, both "above" stairs and "below" stairs. Some of the people she interviewed were children in 1919 and are alive today. She also relied on written histories, both personal and academic. All together, Nicholson takes the reader back to that two year post-war period that saw the beginnings of the "Roaring '20's" with a national obsession for dancing and drinking by all levels of society. She also writes about the toll the "Spanish Flu" had on those at home who caught it from returning soldiers.

Nicholson is a very good and controlled writer. This book is not yet available in the States and I had to order it from Amazon/UK. It is a wonderful look at a very interesting time in British society.
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Format: Paperback
I started reading this book with high hopes of an in-depth discussion of the social aftermath of this devastating conflict because it included a great, informative chapter on facial reconstruction that I found riveting in its detail. There was a reference to Tommy Atkins along the way, leading me to think there would be an even-handed approach to all parts of society, allied to an excellent writing style. However, it was not to be, as other reviewers have pointed out. By the middle of the book, the author has largely given up on any objective view of working class families and their suffering and there are extended descriptions of the Savoy, upper-class gatherings and little mention of 'ordinary' people - aligned to a falling off in the writing quality. As others have also stated, there is an alarming amount of name dropping, to little purpose. This is such a pity because there is much to commend but it is just not sustained.
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Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Juliet Nicolson's previous book on the summer before WW1 and I was not disappointed with this book. It looks at the time of the Armistice on the 11th November 1918 and then the 2 years immediately after.

Taking the perspective of many different people from various walks of life, the author narrates how their world changed from that moment at 11am. Although the war was over and no-one was in danger of being killed, for a lot of people the war didn't end then.

Most poignant of all are the war widows who slept with their husbands uniform or sprinkled his shampoo on their pillow. The description of the ceremonies at the Cenotaph and the burial of the Unknown Soldier are very moving and I read them with tears in my eyes.

A valuable book on a period of history that is sometimes forgotten.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A goodish curate's egg, redeemed by the interesting anecdotes on on many topics, some unexpected (e,g. Who clears up the battleground mess? It's there on pp124-5).

Don't expect a measured historical account: as outlined in the Introduction (which, it appears, few of the 1-3 star critics have bothered to read). It sets out to describe the varied ways in which grief was handled in the silence which followed the Armistice, over a two-year time-span (which, it seems to have escaped the critics, is the period usually quoted in psychological accounts of the process of grief.)

All this it does very well, in a narrative, based on the experiences of people at all levels of society, which addresses the social structure and climate of its day. The latter was set to a substantial degree by the moneyed and titled classes; working people really _did_ defer to the aristocracy, and showed enormous interest in its doings, whether from wishful thinking or justified resentment of the inequalities involved, and I have to say that I found the treatment of all social groups evenly balanced, if I bear that aspect of social attitudes in mind.

The aristocrats and the well-off were the footballers, the popular music heroes, the Posh and Becks of their day; those who complain about an apparent excess of emphasis on them might bear this in mind if they ever set out to describe the climate of our own times to a 22nd century audience, in a way that reflects everyone's interests, and not simply their own.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading previous reviews I was expecting a much more wide-ranging study than this. There are some interesting anecdotes in the early part of the book but overall I was left feeling disappointed. The material covered in the sections covering the Unknown Soldier has been covered recently, and in greater detail, by Neil Hanson in The Unknown Soldier, but it was the basic focus of the book which nagged away increasingly as I read it. The people who endured the most during the Great War were the working class, although you would not think so reading this volume. The author has focused on the middle and upper classes, and large parts are linked to her family connections with the latter. The experiences described here are often ones which everyday people would not have had access to, and the 'hardships' endured by the aristocracy would have found little sympathy. The disappointment felt by many, and the underlying resentment in much of society is severely under-emphasised.
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