Of all the Great War books I have read, this has to rate as the very best. Quite apart from being an excellent account of the old Regular pre-Great War British army and life in that terrible conflict, the fact that it was written by a Cork nationalist who joined an Ulster regiment and later went on to senior rank in WW2 makes this exceptional. This book should be required reading in schools in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. All "sides" of Irish politics should read this book and reflect on John Lucy's comments. This is true history, not a politicised account from later years. It is no romantic tale. It is told as it was - horror, terror, sadness and all, but not without humour and wry asides - by an eloquent, rational and thoughtful man who, to my mind, seems to have encapsulated the very best of what it meant to be an Irishman at that period. His views on the relationship between Ireland and Britain, especially about Easter 1916 are clearly stated but what is of paramount importance is his honourable and professional approach and commitment to his friends and fellow soldiers in the army. If you are a student of European history, the Great War or just the social history of the period than I cannot recommend this book more highly.
With the centenary in 2014 there will be increased interest in the Great War. There will also be an increasing number of publications about it, and, over recent years an increasing number of newly discovered soldiers diaries and memoirs. I have read many of them, but Corporal John Lucy's account of his war is exceptional both in style of writing and the manner in which Lucy captures the action, the moment, and the events around him. I have read nothing that matches his accounts of the Aisne and La Bassee in 1914. A must for every GW interested person, be they military historian or casual reader. If you want to know something of 1914 from the point of view of an NCO from the 'Old Contemptible' BEF, this is it. My interest in the GW is not in the Royal Irish Rifles as such, but it gave me an excellent idea of what the regiment I am interested in endured over the same ground and at the same time. Whatever is published between 2014 and 2018, and a lot of it will be very good, by the likes of Peter Barton, Peter Hart, Richard van Emden and others, Lucy's 'There's a Devil in the Drum' will still be up there with the very best. You'll be missing out if you do not read this.
Only down side: such a good book deserves a much better cover!! But it's the words inside that count
I've read a good many WWI books, with undertones of war, goodbye to all that, being two I rate highly; Devils in the drum easily sits along side these and adds interesting new insight in the form of the loss of original professional army as they are thrown into the grinder. Touches on court martials, and actually has someone describing how they took precautions in the trenches, a very insightful look at one mans experiences during the Great War, highly recommend it.
A very underrated book compared to more popular personal accounts of WWI. A disturbingly matter of fact narrative about the way men adapted themselves to the army and the trench life. Historically important because of the Irish perspective a Southern Irish man fighting with a Northern Irish unit right from the beginning of the war. One if the few survivors of the original "Old Contemptibles". A vital part of any comprehensive collection of such books.
I found this a fascinating account of life in the british army during world war 1. The author is from Cork, his regiment was based in Ballymena, and when the war broke out they were sent to France, where by a series of miracles he managed to survive the entire conflict. If you want to read a first hand account of life for a soldier during the Great War this is the place to start.
A wonderful read, fascinating, humorus, honest and sad. I've read it twice since I got it last year. Richard Holmes the late tv historian reads a brief excerpt from the book here: https://youtu.be/lahW_etCwuw?t=7m54s
Excellent read. A perspective from the ranks highlighting the efforts of an individual to retain relationships as he is promoted. Interesting insight into his internal conflict of being Irish serving in the British Army and in particular an Ulster Regiment.
This is a great book. Actually, I'm only halfway through but it's an exciting read and is hard to put down and the use of language is simple but highly effective. I really recommend this for anyone interested in the experience of the frontline troops in WWI or who just likes a great adventure story.