Books on the First World War

Books on the First World War

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Books - First World War

General Works

Historic Newspapers: Teaching History Resources: A selection of three selections from important historical newspapers, available free to education facilities. The First World War option covers the Autumn Offensive of 1915, the death of Edith Cavell, the appointment of Sir Douglas Haig as commander of the B.E.F., the Dardanelles, Jutland, the death of Kitchener, Air Raids on London, the capture of Jerusalem and the Armistice. The side articles are just as interesting as the main stories, giving a feel for what was seen as important at the time. A super teaching resource.


Fiction



20 Best World War 1 Books (2021 Review)

World war one remains one the most significant events in world history. Whether you are curious about learning more about the war the relative fought in or you would simply like to learn more about the generations that came before, World War I can be a fascinating and dark subject. Tens of millions of people throughout Europe were lost in the field entrenches a battle during this time. Studying World War I can help us to avoid repeating these mistakes from the past and make sure that we can study the evidence of the time that led up to the war to prevent the same conditions.

What are the Best World War 1 Books to read?

There’s a large number of books available on the subject of World War I. You might find it tough to narrow down the right books that you should be reading to further your knowledge. Here are some of the finest books that are currently available on the subject of WWI.


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Hew Strachan was born in in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 1, 1949. He is a historian who specializes in the British military and in World War I. He has written numerous books including The First World War, The First World War in Africa, The Politics of the British Army, and Carl von Clausewitz's On War. He received the Westminster Medal for The Politics of the British Army. He received the Pritzker Military Museum and Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing in 2016.


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Sir Martin Gilbert (1936–2015) was a leading British historian and the author of more than eighty books. Specializing in 20th century history, he was the official biographer of Winston Churchill and wrote a best-selling eight-volume biography of the war leader’s life.

Born in London in 1936, Martin Gilbert was evacuated to Canada with his family at the beginning of World War II as part of the British government’s efforts to protect children from the brutal bombings of the Luftwaffe. He was made a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1962. He is the author of several definitive historical works examining the Holocaust, the First and Second World Wars, and the history of the 20th century.

In 1990, Gilbert was designated a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was awarded a Knighthood in 1995. Oxford University awarded him a Doctorate in 1999. Gilbert was a sought-after speaker on Churchill, Jewish history, and the history of the 20th century, and traveled frequently to lecture at colleges, universities, and organizations around the world.


The Cambridge History of the First World War , Том 2

Jay Winter is Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University, Connecticut. He came to Yale from the University of Cambridge, where he took his doctorate and where he taught history from 1979 to 2001 and was a Fellow of Pembroke College. He is the author of Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (1995) Remembering War (2006) and Dreams of Peace and Freedom (2006). In 1997, he received an Emmy award for the best documentary series of the year as co-producer and co-writer of 'The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century', an eight-hour series broadcast on PBS and the BBC, and shown subsequently in 28 countries. He is one of the founders of the Historial de la grande guerre, the international museum of the Great War, in Péronne, Somme, France. His biography of René Cassin, written with Antoine Prost and published in French in 2011, was published in an English edition by Cambridge University Press in 2013.


Book Excerpt:

“I think I have seen one of the most extraordinary sights today that anyone has ever seen,' Second Lieutenant Dougan Chater wrote to his mother from his trench near Armentières. 'About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trenches and some came towards ours. We were just going to fire on them when we saw they had no rifles so one of our men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas.”



Five Books on World War I

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice between Allied forces and Germany put an end to the fighting of what was then referred to as the Great War. President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11, of the following year, Armistice Day. In 1938, an act of Congress made the day a legal holiday, and by 1954, that act was amended to create Veterans Day, to honor American veterans of all wars.

Journalist Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars (2011), an account of World War I from the perspective of both hawks and doves in Great Britain, provides his picks of books to read to better understand the conflict.

Of the 84 British regiments that fought in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in 1915 and 1916, the Lancashire Fusiliers from Bury, in northern England, suffered the most casualties. The regiment lost 13,642 men in the war𔃉,816 in Gallipoli alone.

For journalist Geoffrey Moorhouse, the subject hit close to home. He grew up in the small mill town of Bury, and his grandfather had survived Gallipoli. In Hell’s Foundations, Moorhouse describes the town, its residents’ attitudes toward the war and the continued suffering of the soldiers who survived.

From Hochschild: A fascinating and unusual look at the war in microcosm, by showing its effects on one English town.

In 1915, Vera Brittain, then a student at the University of Oxford, enlisted as a nurse in the British Army’s Voluntary Aid Detachment. She saw the horrors of war firsthand while stationed in England, Malta and France. Wanting to write about her experiences, she initially set to work on a novel, but was discouraged by the form. She then considered publishing her actual diaries. Ultimately, however, she wrote cathartically about her life between the years 1900 and 1925 in a memoir, Testament of Youth. The memoir has been called the best-known book of a woman’s World War I experience, and is a significant work for the feminist movement and the development of autobiography as a genre.

From Hochschild: Brittain lost her brother, her fiancé and a close friend to the war, while working as a nurse herself.

In the 1990s, British author Pat Barker penned three novels: Regeneration (1991), The Eye in the Door (1993) and The Ghost Road (1995). Though fictional, the series, about shell-shocked officers in the British army, is based, in part, on true-life stories. Barker’s character Siegfried Sassoon, for instance, was closely based on the real Siegfried Sassoon, a poet and soldier in the war, and Dr. W.H.R. Rivers was based on the actual neurologist of that name, who treated patients, including Sassoon, at the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland. The New York Times once called the trilogy a “fierce meditation on the horrors of war and its psychological aftermath.”

From Hochschild: The finest account of the war in recent fiction, written with searing eloquence and a wide angle of vision that ranges from the madness of the front lines to the fate of war resisters in prison.

After serving as an infantry officer in World War II, Paul Fussell felt a kinship to soldiers of the First World War. Yet he wondered just how much he had in common with their experiences. “What did the war feel like to those whose world was the trenches? How did they get through this bizarre experience? And finally, how did they transform their feelings into language and literary form?” he writes in the afterword to the 25th anniversary edition of his monumental book The Great War and Modern Memory.

To answer these questions, Fussell went directly to firsthand accounts of World War I written by 20 or 30 British men who fought in it. It was from this literary perspective that he wrote The Great War and Modern Memory, about life in the trenches. Military historian John Keegan once called the book “an encapsulation of a collective European experience.”

From Hochschild: A subtle, superb examination of the literature and mythology of the war, by a scholar who was himself a wounded veteran of World War II.

The title is simple and straightforward, and yet in and of itself poses an enormous challenge to its writer: to tell the full story of World War I. Keegan’s account of the war is, no doubt, panoramic. Its most commended elements include the historian’s dissections of military tactics, both geographical and technological, used in specific battles and his reflections on the thought processes of the world leaders involved.

From Hochschild: This enormous cataclysm is hard to contain in a single one-volume overview, but Keegan’s is probably the best attempt to do so.


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Published by The Novelty Cutlery Company, Ohio, 1918

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hardcover. Condition: Poor. First edition thus. 8vo. c 100pp. Book containing sample pages from the chapters of the actual book with this title, plus a number of plates, issued to booksellers to enable them to interest customers in ordering the full 700+pp book. Contains instructions on how to show the sample pages to potential purchasers! inscription to fpd, stitching loosening, moderate edge wear, damp effect and bucklng to pages, some smudging and soiling throughout. heavily worn and damp effected covers, bow to boards Dull burgundy with blank spine.


The best books about the First World War

A collection of some of the best books about World War One, from moving poetry collections to fascinating first-hand historical accounts.

More than one hundred years have passed since the hostilities of the First World War ceased, and the guns fell silent after four long years of devastating conflict.

Literature, whether written by those who were there or by those who wish to pay tribute, has kept the Great War and those who lost their lives throughout it in our collective memory.

Here we've curated our edit of the best books on World War One, from enthralling fiction, to moving poetry collections and unfathomable first-hand historical accounts. If you're passionate about history and looking for more inspiration for your next read, discover our edit of the best historical fiction novels, here.

Non-fiction

A World on Edge

By Daniel Schönpflug

A World on Edge reveals Europe in 1918, left in ruins by World War I. With the end of hostilities, a radical new start seems not only possible, but essential. Unorthodox ideas light up the age: new politics, new societies, new art and culture, new thinking.

The struggle to determine the future has begun. Historian Daniel Schönpflug describes this watershed year as it was experienced on the ground from the vantage points of people who lived through the turmoil – open ended, unfathomable, its outcome unclear.

Forgotten Voices Of The Great War

By Max Arthur

The history of the First World War told through the real-life stories of the people who survived it, in their own words, Forgotten Voices is an important record of the monumental events of 1914 - 1918. Compiled from the Imperial War Museum's aural archive, this is a compelling history of World War One from those that experienced it first hand.

Love Letters of the Great War

By Mandy Kirkby

Many of the letters collected here are eloquent declarations of love and longing others contain wrenching accounts of fear, jealousy and betrayal and a number share sweet dreams of home. But in all the correspondence – whether from British, American, French, German, Russian, Australian and Canadian troops in the height of battle, or from the heartbroken wives and sweethearts left behind – there lies a truly human portrait of love and war.

A century on from the First World War, these letters offer an intimate glimpse into the hearts of men and women separated by conflict, and show how love can transcend even the bleakest and most devastating of realities.

A History of the First World War

By B. H. Liddell Hart

A leading military strategist and historian who fought on the Western Front, Liddell Hart combines astute tactical analysis with compassion for those who lost their lives on the battlefield. He provides a vivid and fascinating picture of all the major campaigns, balancing documentary evidence with the testimony of personal witnesses to expose the mistakes that were made and why.

From the political and cultural origins of war to the twists and turns of battle, to the critical decisions that resulted in such devastating losses and to the impact on modern nations, this magnificent history covers four brutal years in one volume and is a true military classic.

Fiction

A Farewell to Arms

By Ernest Hemingway

Frederic Henry is an American Lieutenant serving in the ambulance corps of the Italian army during the First World War. While stationed in northern Italy, he falls in love with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. Theirs is an intense, tender and passionate love affair overshadowed by the war. Ernest Hemingway spares nothing in his denunciation of the horrors of combat, yet vividly depicts the courage shown by so many.

The Winter Soldier

By Daniel Mason

Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War One explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains.

Birdsong

By Sebastian Faulks

Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who arrives in Amiens in 1910. Over the course of the novel he suffers a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.

The Regeneration Trilogy

By Pat Barker

1917, Scotland. At Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, army psychiatrist William Rivers treats shell-shocked soldiers before sending them back to the front. In his care are poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper . . .

Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road follow the stories of these men until the last months of the war. Widely acclaimed and admired, Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy paints with moving detail the far-reaching consequences of a conflict which decimated a generation.

Fall of Giants

By Ken Follett

Praised for its strict adherence to historical fact, Ken Follett’s epic novel follows five families experiencing life before, during and after the war.

When Russia convulses in bloody revolution and the Great War unfolds, the five families’ futures are entwined forever, love bringing them closer even as conflict takes them further apart. What seeds will be sown for further tragedy in the twentieth century and what role will each play in what is to come?

Poetry

Poems from the First World War

By Gaby Morgan

Including poems from Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Vera Brittain, Eleanor Farjeon, Siegfried Sassoon and many more, Poems from the First World War is a moving and powerful collection of poems written by soldiers, nurses, mothers, sweethearts and family and friends who experienced WWI from different standpoints. It records the early excitement and patriotism, the bravery, friendship and loyalty of the soldiers, and the heartbreak, disillusionment and regret as the war went on to damage a generation.

Poetry of the First World War

By Marcus Clapham

The major poets are all represented in this beautiful Macmillan Collector’s Library anthology, Poetry of the First World War, alongside many others whose voices are less well known, and their verse is accompanied by contemporary motifs. Whether in the patriotic enthusiasm of Rupert Brooke, the disillusionment of Charles Hamilton Sorley, or the bitter denunciations of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, the war produced an astonishing outpouring of powerful poetry.

Some Desperate Glory

By Max Egremont

In Some Desperate Glory, historian and biographer Max Egremont gives us a transfiguring look at the life and work of the poets of World War One. Wilfred Owen with his flaring genius the intense, compassionate Siegfried Sassoon the composer Ivor Gurney Robert Graves who would later spurn his war poems the nature-loving Edward Thomas the glamorous Fabian Socialist Rupert Brooke and the shell-shocked Robert Nichols all fought in the war, and their poetry is a bold act of creativity in the face of unprecedented destruction.

For Children

How Can a Pigeon Be a War Hero? And Other Very Important Questions and Answers About the First World War

By Tracey Turner

Why did the First World War start? Who was fighting who? What was it like to be inside the first tank sent to war? How could a shaving brush help you escape being captured? What was the Women's Land Army? Why did it go on so long? How did it end? Find out the answers to these and lots of other exciting questions in Tracey Turner's brilliantly informative book published in association with the Imperial War Museum.

The Skylarks' War

By Hilary McKay

Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer.

When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?


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