The Imperial War Museum Book of the Western Front (Pan Grand Strategy Series) Paperback – 1 Jan 2001
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'An unrivalled and readable introduction to the years of Trench Warfare' TES 'A blockbuster... as near as anyone is likely to get to the authentic life of the trenches' Yorkshire Post
The First World War was won and lost on the Western Front. Covering the whole war, from the guns of August 1914 to the sudden silence of the November 1918 Armistice, the IWM Book of the Western Front reveals what life was really like for the men and women involved. With first-hand accounts of off-duty entertainments, trench fatalism, and going over the top, this is an extremely important contribution to the continuing debate on the First World War. Malcolm Brown has updated this edition, introducing new evidence on sex and homosexuality, executions, the treatment or mistreatment of prisoners and shell shock. 'A blockbuster . . . as near as anyone is likely to get to the authentic life of the trenches' Yorkshire PostSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
This book comments on the major battles of the First World War, including Mons in August 1914, The Somme in 1916, The Battle of Arras and the Battles making up the Third Ypres in 1917 and the Kaiser's Battle in 1918.
In addition, and perhaps more interesting, are the subject matters not widely covered by First World War novelists. These include executions for cowardice and desertion, entertainment for troops away from the front lines, religion and death, shell shock and the contribution made by our allies(including the Indian and Chinese forces).
Covering four years in 350 pages is quite ambitious. You do not get great depth from this book, but what you do get is a snapshot of many different subjects which can be pieced together to form a picture of trench warfare on the Western Front.
Once again, another excellent read from Malcolm Brown.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It covers the four years of the war all along the Western Front and it covers all the western troops fighting and gives a very detailed and up close picture of what it was like to be a soldier, physically, the dangers, and the psychology. In looking at all the WW I books, it would actually be one of the first I would buy.
It is not a monumental work like say the Hew Strachan books now coming out of Oxford (5 volumes now planned at a minimum) but it is interesting, and one fully appreciates the stupidity and massive human tragedy that was the war. He uses many letters sent home by the troops as a structure and to provide the source material for the book and then he writes mini biographies about various people in each battle or event, describes their letters, and then describes the outcome. For example one captain about to become a scientist writes home, and then is killed almost the next day.
We read of the very optimistic outlook of the troops facing death. They are really in denial that they will not be killed, while the troops acknowledge and understand that there will be many casualties, but somehow they (personally) will be spared. One soldier confesses that while exiting a trench and facing machine gun fire, he was more concerned about keeping his pipe lit than death.
This is a very interesting book and in many ways a compelling read that translates the war into personal terms often in the soldiers own words.
I made up a Listmania list of 25 good or the best WW I books and I put a few of Brown's books on the list.
4 or 5 stars.
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