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on 20 February 2010
I bought this book because it was needed for an online course that I am studying. I had a library copy but decided to buy my own as I thought I would use it again. The book gives small bios of the poets which is useful. The poems are separated into different periods of the war, for example, training and early days of the war. This is helpful but there is no alphabetical list of poets which makes it a little difficult if you are looking for a poet rather than a specific poem. Overall though, I am pleased with it and will use it in the future.
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on 27 August 2011
With a vast army of well-educated men on the Western Front experiencing one of the nastiest wars of all time, it is hardly surprising that a positive glut of poetry resulted. How to choose which ones to include in a single volume?

George Walter does better than any of his predecessors in striking a balance between the ones we all know (and naturally expect to be in such an anthology, especially if schools are to use it as a text-book, as penguin clearly intended), and lesser known-works from lesser-known poets.

The poems are organised thematically, which makes perfect sense, and there are biographical notes on each poet. There is a glossary of places and technical matters and an index of titles and first lines. All that is missing is an index of authors - finding the works of a particular poet, if one doesn't know title or first line, becomes tiresome.

Walter starts with a masterful essay on the poem in WW1, and in passing laments the teaching of the cliched half-truths that everyone thinks they know about the Great War, and the way that poetry is used in this deceit as historical evidence, rather than being appreciated as an art-form in itself.

Anyone wanting a single volume to get them started on the study of WW1 poetry, or who just requires a single volume with all the classics for teaching purposes, could not do better than to furnish themselves with this book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 January 2014
Some very interesting information in the introduction that I hadn't realised. It's all quite obvious in retrospect but it was still a series of lightbulb moments for me so I'll make reference to it. The reason why there were hundreds of thousands of poems written and published during World War One was because:

- poetry was for most of Edwardian society, a part of everyday life;
- The media was also almost wholly print-based (cinema was still very much in its infancy);
- Victorian and Edwardian educational reforms resulted in increased literacy;
- the army which Britain sent to fight was the most widely and deeply educated in her history.

I find it very hard to imagine an era when poetry was so much a part of day-to-day life. Although I have never learnt the skill of appreciating poetry, as I read through a succession of these poems, and triggered by certain words or phrases, I started to get images of a grim, kaleidoscopic mix of lice, blood, death, patriotic songs, mad, futility, despair, absurdity, sickness, fear etc. It proved to be a powerful and moving experience.

As I was reading this book, I was also reading Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves. Sometimes the two books worked in tandem. Robert Graves describes the horror of The Battle of Loos and there - in this volume - are poems inspired by Loos.

One very small but moving moment was reading a poem written by Rudyard Kipling. When he actively encouraged his young son John to go to war he was expecting triumph and heroism. John died in the First World War, at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, at age 18. After his son's death, Kipling wrote...

If any question why we died / Tell them, because our fathers lied.

An important document of how World War One was experienced by a wide range of articulate and thoughtful people that brings the experience vividly to life.
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on 19 February 2010
Mr Watson above gives my book five stars - yes, I'm the editor - for which I'm grateful, but says that it's 'flawed' because it has no 'index for titles' and no 'contents page grouping the poets' work together'.
For the record, I'd just like to mention that the index in the book lists both titles and first lines - click on Index in the Look Inside function above to see it - and the alphabetical Biographies section does in fact list all the poems included for each individual poet; anyone searching for a particular poet's work can then cross reference by title using the index.
I know it's a bit cheeky to give my own book five stars, but I really did try to make it as reader-friendly as possible...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 September 2014
There is no shortage of anthologies of WW1 poetry; “Up the Line to Death” and “Men who March Away” are just two that deserve note. Why then another? Well, George Walter’s edited Penguin Classics anthology has a number of distinctive qualities, not least a most thoughtful and accessible introduction. Its range of reference to not only the poets themselves, to other writers and to critics such as Stead and historians such as A. J. P. Taylor, is genuinely illuminating and offers within a short space some fresh perspectives on well-trodden ground. Mr Walter combines scholarship with a lucid, available style that offers much to established and new readers.

What most marks out this splendid anthology is the selection of poems. The major poets are well-represented and Walter is not afraid to include the familiar, including Brooke’s “The Soldier” an extraordinarily beautiful poem for all that has been said of it. Rosenberg, Hardy, Sassoon, Owen et al all have their rightful places. I suppose it is where Walter moves away from the well known that gives the anthology its more distinctive feel. The surprises are not just names unrecognised; Pound is not the first name one would expect to find here and Vera Brittain is generally better known for her diaries than her poems. Many are in the vernacular of the time and this together with the thoughtful arrangement of the poems gives the anthology a freshness and immediacy, not that easy to achieve on this subject.The notes are clear, helpful and of equal use to student and “lay” reader.

The few words above do much less than justice to this admirable achievement, but please don’t pass it by; the words, so many concerning death, leap from the pages with vibrant life.
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on 26 November 2016
At a quick glance this seems to be a very good and comprehensive anthology, just what I would like to use with my students for a class on First World War Poetry. On closer inspection, though, it reveals itself to be fairly user-unfriendly. I have no objection to the poems being arranged by topic rather than by author: in fact I quite welcome it. However the volume has the following editorial defects:
- The contents page gives only the topics, not the individual poems.
- There is an alphabetical index of poems giving page numbers, but not one of poets! There are biographical notes on the poets, arranged alphabetically. It would have cost little work and very little ink to add the page numbers on which their respective poems are to be found so that this section could also function as an index.
- There are apparently quite useful notes on the poems at the back, but the only way to find the notes on a particular poem is to leaf your way through the notes, as there is no cross-referencing system either by page numbers or poem numbers. (The pages are numbered, but the poems are not – this is not a defect in itself, but it could have been done to help us find the notes.)
Sometimes I wonder whether the people who publish books also read them or work with them. I shall look for another anthology for my class.
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on 18 March 2017
The book is very difficult to navigate. The content is divided by topics and does not list the individual poems, so there is no way of looking up just one specific poem. It is a great book in print but utterly unsuitable for the kindle.
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on 1 February 2012
The Kindle version is sadly spoiled by the line numbers, which always appear indented on the following line. For example (I have to use the '~' symbol to illustrate white space here, because extra spaces in the review get deleted):

For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
~~~~~~~~~~~10~~~~~~~~There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;

This is a pity, not least because it causes many lines to break unnecessarily.

Note that this is genuinely a problem with the layout of the text; setting the font size to minimum and switiching to a landscape layout, which gives ample room for each line, does nothing to solve this issue.
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on 29 March 2012
What a disappointment. The appreciation of the verse is marred by the infuriating inclusion of line numbers every tenth line which shunts the text over to the right. Even the Text to Speach does not escape. The mitre is lost as the robotic voice acurately reads out the pesky line number in mid flow.
A revised version. properly laid out. with no line numbers should be distributed as a free upgrade.
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on 16 June 2015
No index, therefore poets and poetry are difficult to find. It was my first try at Kindle, so perhaps such books are not the best choice.
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