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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The First World War in 300 Objects


simonharley

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I was in W.H. Smith's today and noticed no less than three separate titles concerning 100 objects of the Great War.

The First World War in 100 Objects. Peter Doyle.

The First World War in 100 Objects. Gary Sheffield.

A History of the First World War in 100 Objects. John Hughes-Wilson.

What on earth are publishers thinking? If this is the pattern to be followed for the next four years then God help us all. I looked through the Sheffield offering and was struck by the striking paucity of naval content, so it's not particularly educational either to my mind.

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This all stems from Neil MacGregor's 'A History of the World in 100 objects' which was such a surprising success as a radio series with the book as a spin off. There have been any number of attempts to relocate the success of this first effort and I'm afraid the bandwagon jumping has now reached our neck of the woods.

I haven't heard of John Hughes-Wilson, but I would have hoped both Messers Sheffield and Doyle would be above such pot-boilers

David

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I had a quick look through the Hughes-Wilson/ Steel book whilst in Waterstones the other day and I thought it looked very interesting as it contained items from the I.W.M collection,

I may even be tempted to buy it if the price is reduced in the future.

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This all stems from Neil MacGregor's 'A History of the World in 100 objects' which was such a surprising success as a radio series with the book as a spin off. There have been any number of attempts to relocate the success of this first effort and I'm afraid the bandwagon jumping has now reached our neck of the woods.

I haven't heard of John Hughes-Wilson, but I would have hoped both Messers Sheffield and Doyle would be above such pot-boilers

David

Hi David

Colonel John Hughes-Wilson is co-author of 'Blindfold and Alone', along with Cathryn Corns. He has written other books including 'Military Intelligence Blunders' and 'A brief History of the Cold War'. He has done TV and radio work as well as lectures and articles. So not totally unknown, also he is an ex-'Boss' of mine so definitely 'known' by me at least!

Mike

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Mike

Thank you. I certainly didn't mean to imply he was unknown simply that he was unknown to me. But as i teach the Cold War at A Level he probably shouldn't be by the sound of it!

David

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Only seen Gary Sheffield's version, but with trench art not being one of his 100 I kinda lost interest... Don't suppose it features in either of the other lists, does it?

Humph...

James

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One of the Doyle 100 is a trench art ring. All three books take the same form of an object with a brief essay about it, or what it represents. There is surprisingly little triplication, each author by and large having found a different 100 to list. Where there is a duplication such as the Adrian helmet in Doyle and Hughes-_Wilson, Doyle is generic, while Hughes-Wilson is specific. They ARE all primers, if you will, and probably a bit basic for Forum members, but they are all nicely done. The Hughes-Wilson is probably the best of the three.

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Thanks, Paul - guess one out of three hundred is better than nothing!!! Will wait for the Doyle book to be remaindered before I look at it!

James

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John Hughes-Wilson was in Glasgow recently as part of the "Aye Write" Book Festival. He did a short, but very informative presentation on the First World War alongside Prof. Hew Strachan. Hughes-Wilson used some of the objects from his book to discuss and address some of the myths and misconceptions of the First World War, while Prof. Strachan focussed more on the centenaries themselves, and the opportunities they represent for informed discussion and research into the War. I was very keen to hear what Prof. Strachan had to say, and I wasn't disappointed. I must say as well, John Hughes-Wilson came across very well, and certainly knew his stuff. I did actually look for his book in the stall afterwards, but it was sold out (Strachan's 'The First World War' was still very much available).

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Folks

Mea culpa

Ever since my post #3 I have been annoyed with myself. I normally eschew the old Sydney Smith witticism "I never read a book before reviewing it. It prejudices a man so" but in this instance I didn't. I damned all the volumes on the strength of a brief flicking through Sheffield's book in Smith's last Sunday.

I would have slaughtered any of my students for putting forward an opinion so woefully lacking in evidence in its support.

I'm still not saying they are going to find their way onto my bookshelf, but I will certainly make a more reasoned judgement before they do or don't

David

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Admin

I wonder how long will it take for them to be remaindered!

Sepoy

not long, Sheffield's was £7.99 in the Works in Eastbourne today, down from £25 I have to admit I succumbed!

Ken

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not long, Sheffield's was £7.99 in the Works in Eastbourne today, down from £25 I have to admit I succumbed!Ken

Thank you for the tip Ken. The Works in Reading duly obliged at the same price.

My hypocritical journey from #3 is therefore complete, not least because having read the first ten objects I am thoroughly engrossed by the format!!

David

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