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The Western Front: Landscape, Tourism and Heritage (Modern Conflict Archaeology) Hardcover – 27 Oct 2016
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About the Author
Stephen Miles is an Affiliate Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow's Crichton Campus in Dumfries. He studied at the universities of Durham and Sheffield before undertaking a PhD at the University of Glasgow which he completed in 2012. He has previously written on 'dark' tourism and sense of place at conflict sites.
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The text reads more like an academic piece with excellent appendices, illustrations and bibliography. However, it is very accessible and by looking specifically at Landscape, Tourism and Heritage the book makes a very interesting companion to anyone interested in WWI.
I particularly liked the writing about remembrance and the not always heard statistics over the number of missing; resting within, under and now part of the landscape of The Western Front.
Due to its proximity to the British Isles it is not surprising that so many in the aftermath of the end of hostilities went to see where their loved ones were lost and buried.
It is also interesting to learn that what was once contemporary history is now taught as part of the national curriculum and many educational trips are made to the former battlefields, the cemeteries and museums.
It is acknowledged that many of the combatants rarely talked of their experiences; were restricted what they could write in their letters home and didn't have access to or permission for photography.
Over time these veterans have returned and found closure or comradeship with their brothers in arms. They have now all died and it is fascinating that much of the remembrances are now undertaken by 2nd and 3rd generation descendants aware of family history and making personal pilgrimages to Belgium and France.
As the Centenary, has approached many celebrations and acts of remembrance. New museums and tourist sites have arisen in the past 20 years as more and more people have journeyed here to see the landscape for themselves. This has been fuelled by popular literature, personal interest in genealogy and a unique place where a battle raged within entrenched positions for over 4 years.
Some interesting comments regarding how we respect these sites, now take selfies and want more interactive presentations.
There are questions as to whether these trends will continue or if there will be a fall in tourism into the next decade and beyond.
I am prompted to plan a visit and make the place personal to me.
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