Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review at Amazon

I wrote a review of Peter Hart's "1918 - A Very British Victory", which I bought in Chester, for - see all my reviews by clicking here. The review is reproduced in full below.

1918 - A Very British Victory
Excellent book about the end of a terrible war, 11 Aug 2008
I heard Peter Hart being interviewed about his new book "1918" on RTÉ radio a few of weeks ago and made a mental note to watch out for it the next time I was in a bookshop. Hart in the interview described the end of the war as a savage time and how even in victory, the British suffered enormous casualties - life was indeed cheap.

This book starts out well and gets better and better. Hart makes no apologies for labelling the book "A very British victory" though a more accurate title might have been "A very British victory (with a little help from our French, Canadian, Australian, and American friends)". One minor critique - though the maps are excellent and useful, there are many references to locations not shown on the maps and it can be sometimes hard to figure out where events actually happened.

The way this book is written makes it stand out from others I have read. As the oral historian in the IWM Hart has access to huge archives of first hand accounts of the action that he expertly links together with the context of events. It is a tough job to write about events from the point of view of the ordinary Tommies going "over the top" and the generals commanding at the same time, but Hart pulls this off magnificently. It is almost as if Hart interviewed each man personally at the time - excellent!

For balance, I would have liked to have had more first hand German accounts - but as this book is written from a very British point of view this is forgiveable. As I write this review, Wikipedia lists only 11 known surviving First World War veterans - it is important that books such as this one record the personal accounts of what happened for posterity. Very soon there will be nobody living who will be able to recall either military or civilian events from 1918.

Read this book and enjoy, you will not be disappointed - 5 stars.

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