The War of the World: History's Age of Hatred Paperback – 26 Mar 2009
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A heartbreaking, serious and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic (Simon Sebag Montefiore The New York Times)
Unputdownable, controversial, compelling (Independent on Sunday)
The grenade lobbed into the cosy tea party of received wisdom (Max Hastings)
A big, bold and brilliantly belligerent book (Sunday Telegraph)
History at its most controversial ... no one can afford to overlook it (Allan Mallinson)
Hums with energy, quotable insights and pithy summaries (Observer)
Gripping (Tristram Hunt)
H.G. Well's classic taleSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Like most people I have read this story countless times, but I have never got bored with it. Influencing other writers in the field with their own 'invasion' stories this is a story that will never go away or age. If you have never read this before then snatch up this edition whilst it is free.
You do have an active table of contents here, and there is also the beginning excerpt of Felix J Palma's 'The Map of the Sky' at the back of this book, after the main story. I should point out that you will see occasionally small numerals in the text of this, but there are no footnotes. The reason for this is that the publisher, Simon and Schuster, have allowed the main text to be used, but not the footnotes as they publish that in a complete 'enriched' edition.
As well as a sci-fi novel this can be seen as so many other things, an allegory for instance of Imperialism, as well as other topics. As I noted above, there are no footnotes for this particular edition, but lets be honest, I seriously doubt that you would need any, and no, the tiny numbers that appear where there would be one doesn't detract from reading the novel.
The book is written in the first person perspective focusing on a civilian's experiences during a martian invasion from their initial launch to their eventual defeat. The book is slow in places due to HG Wells's description of the martians and their equipment including advanced weaponry such as lasers had never been written about before so he goes into rather a lot of detail, which isn't a bad thing by any means as it still fits perfectly from the point of view of the protagonist and the era it's set in.
Despite the title of the book this isn't like modern titles that are full of heros and explosions though there are plenty in the latter. This is a story about a man's survival, fascination with the unknown as well as his mental state and inner thoughts regarding the events. It's really rather clever and even now everything about it stands out.
Anyone into science fiction should really read this, not just to see the history of the genre but because this victorian book is still a brilliant read.
+ Well ahead of it's time.
+ Detailed in it's description as an observer of events.
+ Incredibly clever ending.
I originally read an abridged version of this book when I was quite young, having first been introduced to the story through my dad's love of Jeff Wayne's musical version, and it's been one of my favourite early sci-fi novels ever since. There's no question that modern sci-fi wouldn't be where it is now without the influence of Wells and his contemporaries.
To modern readers the bulk of this novel could very easily come across as somewhat flawed. The assumptions made about Mars, and the technology employed by the Martians were later borne out to be incorrect, though at the time many of the ideas and concepts used by Wells were ground-breaking. Drawing on the popular scientific understanding of the times he was able to present his readers with a tale that could so very easily have been true, though many considered the idea of total war as practised by the Martians to be more far-fetched than the possibility of life on other planets.
Despite the flaws that we can so easily identify with hindsight this is still one hell of a tale, and in my opinion should be essential reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in science fiction.
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