- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front Paperback – 7 Mar 2005
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Tommy is Richard Holmes's tribute to the ghosts of the millions of ordinary soldiers who fought in the First World War. The book also reflects the dissatisfaction he feels at the way we still remember it. Too often we approach World War I through the literature it inspired. The poems of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and others have their own truths to offer, but Holmes would dispute the assumption that they represent the experiences of the majority of those who endured the trench warfare of the Western Front.
To discover new voices and new perspectives on the war he has trawled through the rich archives of letters, diaries and memoirs that still exist, most of them written while the fighting still continued. From these he has constructed an extraordinarily vivid and moving picture of what it felt like to be one of the millions of men who served in the British army during the four years between August 1914 and the armistice on November 11, 1918. From Private Albert Bullock rejoicing in the discovery of 200 Woodbines in the pack of a fellow soldier who had fled the front line, to Private Eric Hiscock describing the horrors of finding himself entangled in barbed wire. The Tommies, whom Richard Holmes rescues from obscurity, prove powerful witnesses to the diverse realities of the war. Beneath the stereotyped images of the First World War that we all carry in our heads, the real lives of the men who fought it are still there to be discovered and Holmess book brings them forcefully to our attention. Nick Rennison --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
‘Holmes is one of our foremost military scholars and a skilled writer who knows his audience well. This is excellent popular history: scholarly, highly readable and utterly absorbing.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Monumental … Every page of this is worth reading.’ Time Out
‘Where Holmes’s book comes brilliantly to life is in his use of first-hand accounts of the trench experience … It is Holmes’s achievement to make this familiar landscape come alive with the humanity of those who fought in it.’ TLS
‘Holmes has produced yet another fascinating, balanced and original book of a highly emotive subject. ‘ Sunday TelegraphSee all Product description
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Thank heaven, though, that Holmes has no absurd political axe to grind. I've always been grateful to one of my university tutors for pointing me in the direction of Terraine's 'The Smoke And The Fire', and ground my teeth somewhat when the BBC overdid it on the Somme last year. 'Lions led by donkeys'? Absurd. But the class aspects cannot - and should not - be set aside.
I should like to read something linking the Boer War with 1914 - perhaps 'Redcoat' does this.
For example I was particularly struck by the repudiation of the 'eyewitness account' of 2nd Lt Beadle, 33rd Div artillery F.O. officer of the 'charge into High Wood' on 14th July 1916 of the Deccan Horse and 7th Dragoon Guards.
Lt Beadle's account is quoted in Lyn Macdonald's book 'Somme' and in Prior & Wilson's account of the battle. Holmes identified the elements of Beadle's account which makes it implausable and thus unreliable. It does point up the danger of inaccuracy or plain, though unwitting, fantasy of verbal accounts summoned from the memories of participants of any event. Books based on accounts 'in their own words' are suspect in this regard.
Reliable is a word you can count on with Holmes's book. As a historian, lecturer at Sandhurst, Co-Director of RMC Sciences, Shrivenham and one time most senior officer of the Territorals, one would expect Holmes to be accurate and meticulous with his facts.
In certain sections there are too may facts . Anyone not personally interested in the make-up and evolution of a particular regiment, division and battalion will find that there are lengthy passages which describe in excessive detail the permutations of British Army units.
There are also repetitions of passages, not only from his book 'Redcoats' but also from chapters earlier in this book. There are passages I have read 3 or 4 times, in 'Redcoats', 'Tommies' [perhaps twice] and 'The Western Front'
I recognise that the history of the British Army soldier is a continuum. Changes to any aspect of the Army between wars are bound to be part of any book describing those wars. Thus, a considerable amount of description of many aspects of soldiering and soldiers between the end of The Boer War and WW1 are to be found in 'Redcoats' and 'Tommy'
Having said all that, 'Tommy' is excellent. There is no aspect of soldiering that Holmes has not covered, from the activities of Army chaplains, disciplinary and legal proceedings, medical and provisioning, morale and social attitudes. It could probably have benefited from a reduction by 100 pages or so - it's a big book - but it is full of interest, written in typical Holmesian crisp, unpretentious style and restrained humour.
It contains lots of quotes from people writing at the time, which I enjoyed.
I thought it better than "Redcoat" -- it seemed to have a better structure and flow. So top marks becuase that was a good book too!
I found the time line a little difficult to follow at first but soon worked out that as each subject is covered the author was correct to format the book his way.
It is informative, emotional, educational and entertaining.
I would highly recommend it.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews