Leading First World War historian Richard van Emden shows the War in shocking and moving close-up from August 1914 to November 1918, drawing on never-before-seen private photographs and soldiers' first-hand accounts
For the first time ever the soldiers' experiences of the First World War are recorded in their own words and pictures.
Shortly after images of the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 found their way into national newspapers in Britain, the military authorities banned the private use of cameras on the Western Front. A considerable number of soldiers continued to use them illicitly to record life and death in the front line trenches.
Including over 250 personal and unpublished photographs, this large-format book gives a new perspective on the war that was not captured by the official photographers who traversed the Western Front.
Combined with extracts from personal diaries and letters written by soldiers and civilians in Britain through each year of the war up until Armistice Day in 1918, The Great War is a remarkable, vivid account of war. It is a stunning portrayal of humanity, at its best, and at its worst.
About the Author
Richard van Emden has interviewed over 270 veterans of the Great War and has written fifteen books on the subject including Boy Soldiers of the Great War and The Last Fighting Tommy. He has also worked on more than a dozen television programmes on the First World War, including Britain's Last Tommies, Britain's Boy Soldiers, the award-winning Roses of No Man's Land and War Horse: The Real Story. He lives in West London.
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Comments about Tommy's War:
This book is a treasure. It has given me some understanding of the many brave men and women who fought in this tragic war. That is something I never thought possible.
There are extracts from journals and letters: 'Remember little Belgium! It's impossible to forget it when you've got half of it clinging to your boots and the other half splashed all over your uniform,' one lieutenant notes, dryly. There are also some astonishing photos taken on Vest Pocket Kodaks, the smartphones of their day. One blurred snapshot shows the famous Christmas truce of 1914 Daily Mail Books of the Year Riveting ... Though sometimes ill-composed and out of focus, these amateur photos offer an extraordinarily fresh account of the conflict. Instead of stiff, set-up scenes, we see what daily life was really like for soldiers ... Pictures like these offer an intimate understanding of the means by which, even in the face of abject horror, these bright, sometimes bashful young faces found the will to survive Daily Telegraph Richard van Emden, who has become almost a posthumous advocate for the poor bloody infantry ... draws on the vast quantity of written and photographic material available on the Great War ... It was, after all, the first conflict to be photographed to any great extent by the participants, and Kodak avidly marketed battlefield-ready cameras the iPhones of the day. As ever, Emden makes the most of these original statements and images Independent Thanks to the VPK, the Great War was captured on film for families at home and illustrated in newspapers and magazines. From this photographic archive, and from the letters and diaries of men at the front, van Emden has compiled their own testimony, quite different from the official propaganda and historical material. The earthy humor and human horror of the casual images of men at war are still, 100 years later, intimate and immediate Saga
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 1st July 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 19.0 x 3.5
Weight (kg): 1.19
Edition Number: 1