Walk through any English town or village you'll quickly find a war memorial..usually crowned with poppy wreaths at any time of year. The past is never really another country. Carved upon the stone are the names of lost sons and fathers, almost always Privates, rarely Officers. This book is about those lives; one day a butcher, the next in France. One afternoon cutting hay, a month later cutting down the advancing Germans. That dark bloody tragedy of the Great War is captured here in grainy black and white..or more accurately a hopeless, lifeless grey. Britain and it's soon to vanish Empire lost a million dead..this is hard stuff to look at from the darkest parts of our inhumanity ..18 year old conscripts look younger and more unprepared than my teenage boys now .. A body tossed into a tree by a shell burst...the crumpled trench killed and the cross makers..frightened boy faces on the beach of Gallipoli..horse corpses..primitively but threateningly futuristic looking tanks...a line of blinded gas casualties each with a hand on the shoulder of the man in front..there's no glory here; just blood guts and a never ending dirty fear. A century on and the muddy tears won't dry.
Another very fine book by Richard Holmes. The information you get from any of his work is outstanding and the photographs he used here are unusual. The fact this was a second hand purchase but looks unread is a further pleasure. Worth the cost at a fraction of the original price.
I bought this for my dad for fathers day.He is a WW1 buff.He was flicking through it and we found a photo of my great grandfather at the front on the Somme.So it was a great gift with family history to boot!
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