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War Memorial: The Story of One Village's Sacrifice from 1914 to 2003 Paperback – 7 Nov 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241960657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241960653
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A touching tribute to ordinary lives . . . brutally cut off long before their allotted time (Sunday Telegraph)

A fascinating mix of history and sociology that leaves one with a profound sense of the vagaries and cruelties of fate, particularly during times of war (Country Life)

[A] fascinating history (Daily Telegraph)

A moving look at the harrowing stories behind a century of names inscribed on the war memorial of a small and sleepy Devon village (Sunday Times)

An engaging, absorbing work (Chris Baker The Long, Long Trail/Great War Forum)

With this book Aslet makes an important contribution to social history... the stories are not tidy portraits of heroism but achingly real portraits of wartime loss experienced by a changing rural community (Daily Express)

About the Author

Clive Aslet is an award-winning journalist and former Editor of Country Life who has spent his career observing Britain and its ways. An authority on British life, he has written several books on the subject - including The Last Country Houses, Landmarks of Britain, and Villages of Britain.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The ready availability of military records of the era of the Great War has in recent years encouraged the development of a whole genre of work: the exploration of the men, life and experience of a place in Britain through the study of those named on its war memorial. In most cases these are the work of an individual who has carried out deep research, sometimes over many years. Most such works are privately or locally produced, essentially as the larger publishers have only seen a limited market for such work. Clive Aslet's "War memorial" is different, being produced by one of the big names of publishing and no doubt because of the name and reputation of its author. Aslet is well known for his work with Country Life, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. It should encourage to those many people who are out there beavering away at similar projects that in the build-up to the centenary of the Great War, publishers may soon be more eager to produce such works than has hitherto been the case.

"War memorial" is a study of the men of Lydford, a small rural community on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. The village cross names thirteen men who died in WW1, to which was added eight more in WW2, one who fell in the Falkands conflict and one just nine years ago relating to the Iraq War. It is typical of its type and is no larger or smaller in numbers of names than we expect; but at the same time all memorials and the men listed are unqiue and have their own tales to tell. Clive Aslet has, judging by the notes, trawled official records, local material and (hurrah) internet sources to produce an engaging, absorbing work.
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Format: Hardcover
War Memorial is an absorbing insight into the lives of not only the individuals concerned but their families, their communities and the impact of war in the round.

Taking as it does a memorial like any other, the author crafts a powerful narrative that goes far beyond that which one would normally assume the subject matter would cover. He provides insight into the period which encompasses wide social issues as well as that of the lives of those recorded and straddles the various significant conflicts from WW1 to Iraq.

This is not a book which simply states the bare facts, but rather, delves behind the circumstances of their deaths to find the characters themselves. It is a refined and respectful recognition that illustrates that across many communities, such memorials represent a tangible link with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice through their service.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The enduring power of the First World War over the nation's imagination has only been reinforced by the centenary celebrations. For example, the Woodland Trust, of which I am a trustee, is planting four woods, one each in the 4 nations of the UK. And the power of that far off war to grip our imagination is even stronger for those of us like me who can remember talking to men and women who lived through the War. I can certainly well remember my grandfather, Private Joseph William Marshall, who died in 1969 and who had fought at Ypres with the London Rifle Brigade. Ypres, together with the Somme, is one of those places that particularly encapsulates the terrible experience of the Western Front. Ypres (Wipers to the Tommy) was a key salient which was never captured by the Germans but was reduced to utter ruin by German shelling. Today, the whole area around Ypres is full of cemeteries, vast row on rows of tombstones, often marked "To a Soldier of the Great War, Known only to God." In the centre of Ypres is the vast Cloth Hall - the largest non religious building in Europe in 1914 - which was destroyed but has been rebuilt and is today a moving museum "In Flanders Field". When you enter you are given an identity of a British, french, Belgian or German soldier or a Belgian civilian and when you come out you are told what happened to "you". usually the answer is sadly predictable.

The author of "War Memorial", Clive Aslet move us from the killing trenches of Ypres to one of the most beautiful and remote parts of England - Lydford in Devon. Those of you who like me love Devon and perhaps consider it the greatest of all English counties will know that this is today a beauty spot, with a famous gorge, Lydford Gorge on the edge of Dartmoor.
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Format: Hardcover
Bought this for my 80 year old uncle, who seemed to find it fascinating. He is interested in history but not especially military tactics. I chose this book for the moving human element to each personal story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting book in every respect, depicting the life of a village in the conflicts of the 20th century
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My husband lived in Lydford in the nineteen fifties and sixties and knew some of the families mentioned. He found the book very interesting and also learnt several interesting facts about the village and its residents. He used to wait for the school bus every morning at the War Memorial and the book bought the names on the memorial to life.
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