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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 May 2011
Yet another very good book in the FORGOTTEN VOICES series.
A fascinating read,it is compiled using the personal recollections of the people who were involved in this period of history.
The people that are included in this book range from children, women factory workers to the troops who took part in the battles of the Western Front and Gallipoli.The book focuses on these 2 areas of the war.
Veterans from Britain, Germany, Canada, Australia and the USA were interviewed for their contributions to the book.
The FORGOTTEN VOICES series is a very good way to get an insight into events that took place inthe 20th century from the Great war to the Falklands.
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on 24 November 2002
Max Arthur’s new book covering the Great War is quite unique in that its content is nearly all first-hand accounts from people who experienced the horror of the Great War. The author has utilized a number of tape recorded interviews conducted by the Imperial War Museum in 1972. Many of the tapes from the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive had been forgotten and left unheard for years.
Now Max Arthur has put together many of these unheard voices from the Great War to produce this spellbinding and captivating book. I must admit that I was reluctant to buy this book as I was worried that a book full of short accounts would be too disjointed and really not detailed enough to satisfy my interest. I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed reading this book.
Each chapter of the book was a year of the Great War and was commenced by an introduction by the author offering a brief run down on the major events of that year. Then we heard from the men and women who participated in these events, from both sides of no-man’s land. The author has concentrated mainly on the Western Front and Gallipoli and has tried to run the oral segments in chronological order.
I was really taken by these segments and I found it hard to stop reading. The accounts from these soldiers and civilians alike were at times humorous, strikingly direct, horrifying and on many occasions quite sad. I was really taken in by these accounts and I don’t think that any World War One library would be complete without this title sitting on the shelf. I can honestly say that I learnt quite a few things from this book and I would place it along side such works offered by Lyn MacDonald. Well done to the author and the Imperial War Museum for allowing these veterans, many now long dead, the last word on their experiences in the Great War. This is a great book, you won’t be disappointed.
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on 22 December 2003
Max Arthur uses the Imperial War Musuem sound archive to great effect to enable people who lived through the time of the Great War to tell their story. In fact this is perhaps the greatest strength of an excellent book in that it captures a period in time with the authenticity only one written by people who lived through it can.
Although primarily recalled through the memories of military personnel we also hear from a cross section of non-combatants ranging from school children to conscientious objectors. Max Arthur has created a living time capsule of the first world war and the result is an enlightening book which deserves high praise and a wide readership.
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on 6 May 2017
An excellent history of the first world war, as told exclusively by the people who were there, from all walks of life. Moving, horrific, spellbinding. The biggest surprise for me was how the conscientious objectors were actually viewed by the veterans, with respect and admiration. I guess a more enlightened age than I originally thought.
An Angel's Alternative
Cold Steel on the Rocks
We Are Cold Steel
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on 30 July 2008
Forgotten Voices of the Great War is a collection of real life experiences of the First World War, as told by the ordinary people who lived through it.
I must admit that my knowledge of the First World War is a little blank. My only previous experience of this period was through school lessons about trench warfare, or by watching Blackadder goes forth. Therefore I can't make an analysis about the historical accuracy of the book. But what I can say is that I found it a very powerful and poignant work.

The author, Max Arthur, has spent several years listening to thousands of recordings of the men and women who lived during this period. These tapes were kept as archival records in the Imperial War Museum, after they were collected in 1972. These are essentially the voices of a lost generation. The book is divided into chapters that cover every year of the war, from 1914 to 1918. Within these chapters are accounts taken from individual campaigns or battles such as Gallipoli, The Second Battle of Ypres, or the Battle of Mons.

Arthur has sifted through these records to bring out the most varied and unique stories. We are told about gas attacks, boredom or banter between soldiers, but we also get to hear the points of view of people like Elizabeth Owen, who was a schoolgirl at the outbreak of the war. Many of these stories are touching and funny, while others can be truly horrifying. In the section on Gallipoli for instance, we get a story of the games played between British and Turkish soldiers, with some of them throwing tinned bully beef and strings of figs to each other as presents. In the same section it also tells you of the horrible and undignified deaths caused by dysentry and other diseases, which will probably be some of the most terrible accounts of the war you will ever read.

This is an incredibly powerful and important book. If you have ever wondered about life during the First World War, then this book should be the first one you read. Extraordinay.
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War is never going to be a pleasant thing to read about, and this is no exception - it consists of testimonies from survivors, which have been cut into chunks and organised so that they refer to events in the order that they happened.

I happened across this in a charity shop at the end of October, and I can think of no better way to understand the real meaning of Armstice day - the absolute horror of the things they went through is something that I'd never be able to do. You get a real flavour of the way people were then too - women back in England handing out feathers (the symbol of a coward) to men in the street, completely unaware that a lot of them were back from the trenches sans uniform, which really affected the soldiers.

I won't go into the individual stories, but you can hear the voices rising from the page as you read - as an ex-actor, this is excellent source material if you're doing something set in this period.

A REALLY REALLY GOOD READ. Not many books have affected me as much as this one.
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on 14 January 2011
I was never much interested in The Great War. World War II was more 'glamorous' for me... This book changed my perception of a War that was entrenched in trenches! ALL soldiers are brave, some more than others. The men who fought in the Great War were exceptionally so.

The book comes in first hand accounts from the men who fought, the civilians who stayed and a society that changed. I can't praise this book high enough. One reviewer here refers to the 'white feather' incident (where a soldier home on leave is handed a white feather- a sign of cowardice- by a woman) and how the men built up a camaraderie and a solidarity that we will never understand, out on the killing fields.

This is NOT a military stategies book, and this does not go into detail about the massive logistical side of this campaign. This is a book of the men who were there, there thoughts and feelings when hell and chaos descended upon them. This also tells us a little of how British society was changed and how the women stepped into the shoes of those who had gone off to war. These are the words of the soldiers who went to foreign fields, fought in some of the most brutal battles, who were scarred much more deeply than we would ever imagine and, by some miracle, survived...

Never forget these forgotten voices. The least we can do is pay our respects to the fallen every November 11th.
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on 15 June 2009
There are few books I've read where I have actually been moved to tears - actually REAL tears - whilst reading them. This is one of those books.

FVotGW is a superb collection of memories, anecdotes, insights and real-life tales from those who experienced WWI first-hand.

While such compendiums may have been published before, what comes across in FGotGW is the sheer, over-whelming humanity of people who recorded these thoughts and experiences and the situations they describe. The everyday, mundane aspects of being at war are described as poetically and meaningfully as the high-tension, terror-filled conditions in the trenches and on the battlefield.

The most touching excerpt for me was when the limbless veteran having returned from the Front bumped into a young woman who had - prior to his posting - presented him with a white feather for his alleged cowardice. She saw him in the street, recognised him, but face struck in horror at his disfigurements, walked on ignoring him. She was prepared to humiliate him owing to her own misunderstanding and ignorance of his circumstances, but then did not have the strength of character or humanity to stop and speak to him when he had given so much.

A moving book. An important book.
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on 17 May 2016
Oral histories collected by the Imperial War Museum of memories of veterans of WWI. Extraordinary & gruesome testimonies - worth the read.
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on 27 November 2002
This is a unique book. It is an oral history of the First World War, the stories of many people, soldiers, women of the Land Army, soldiers from all sides of the conflict. Max Arthur has skilfully woven a patchwork, distilling hundreds of hours of tapes of interviews with the survivors, reassembling them into a book that slowly unfolds the story of the war in their words. It is not about great people or great moments although there are many of these. It is about the day by day horror of the unfolding drama and their survival.
The voices speak with a different tone, almost unrecognisable today. It is one of humility, of a lack of self importance, of the greater good of the country and faith. There is in some ways a lack of depth in their descriptions as we are now so used to mining the extent of our inner experiences. Then, suddenly a comment will illuminate the ordeal and lend it terrible power.
It is extraordinary to see the dreadful conditions, the mud, infections, rats, sleeplessness, bombing and killing and maiming, slowly become habitual and even, bizarrely, preferable to being at home. One sees the same men start out strong and hopelessly optimistic and naive, slowly being ground into a new, darker personality.
This book is a treasure trove of individual experiences, now saved before the last of these men are lost forever. Max Arthur not only edited the tapes but also was able to interview some survivors himself.
It is the ideal book for primary source material and should be of importance to schools and universities. It helps remind us of what happened by listening to the last echoes of those who were there. Every library should have one.
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