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ww1 difficulty


Alecras234

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I'd forget Basil-Liddell Hart's books. A very polemic and distorted view; his analysis of what ought to have occurred is highly questionable. Liddell-Hart was out to damn the generals, rather than being a dispassionate and balanced account.

 

Much better general narrative histories that provide a good overview, although a little outdated,  are C.R.M.F Cruttwell's A History of the Great War 1914-1918 ( published 1934) and Cyril Falls The Great War 1914- 1918 (published 1959). Keegan's The First World War (1998) is also good.

Edited by Crunchy
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Perhaps a magazine format would be easier to follow?

 

The following books contain articles which were originally  published in the weekly magazine The War Illustrated, published from August 1914, and are available online for free. To access, click on the links. As the name suggests there are many illustrations.

 

The War illustrated Album de Luxe: The Story of the Great European War told by Camera, Pen and Pencil edited by J A Hammerton, published 1915-1919 Archive.org.

 Vol.1 The First Phase;     Vol.2 The Winter Campaign 1914-1915;     Vol.3 The Spring Campaign-1915;    Vol.4 The Summer Campaign -1915;   Vol.5 The Second Winter Campaign -1915-1916;   Vol.6 The Spring and Summer Campaign of 1916;    Vol.7 The Autumn Campaign of 1916;   Vol.8 Ending the First Three Years;     Vol.9 The Fourth Year, 1917-18;     Vol.10 The Last Phase

 

In addition,  collections of soldiers' stories  generally use simpler language. The following are available online for free, To access, click on the links.

Soldiers' Stories of the War edited by Walter Wood 1915 Archive.org 

In the Line of Battle: Soldiers' Stories of the War edited by Walter Wood 1916 Archive.org

 

Cheers

Maureen

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  • 2 months later...

Hi im having problem with reading Lyn Macdonald books.   I'm reading 1914 Days of Hope and the BEF are in a village in Belgium being attacked by the Germans.    What im having difficulty with is picturing where they are and what's going on.    What is the best way or how do i picture whats happening?  I try to imagine what's happening but i get confused and i don't understand whats going on.

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Steven Broomfield

Personally (and I hope this isn't too heretical), I am not a massive fan of Lynn McDonld's books. I find her style rather difficult to follow what is going on - context, etc - which seems to be the problem the poster is having.

 

As suggested, you'd be better off reading something about the war, then using Ms McD's work as colouring in the pictures.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi im Ash, im 41 from north wales.   My mate who likes ww1 and 2 history suggested to me that i should read Lyn Mcdonald books to know about ww1 and what happened.   I am trying to read one of her books called, 1914 Days of Hope,  im getting annoyed and frustrated because some parts i follow but other parts i get lost and don't follow the story.   She talks about a certain battalion  and then the story goes into something different, i cant follow.     Shall i read her other books as they are about a particular battle, whereas the book im reading now discusses plans, retreating and various armies.

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Bernard_Lewis

It depends on your interests, I think.

 

Do you want to read e.g. the story of a single soldier? Or a particular battalion? Or a division? Or a battle? Or an overview of the entire war? 

 

There are thousands of books covering those (and other) themes. If you can narrow down your interest I'm sure members can make suggestions.

 

Bernard

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You posted a similar query previously

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/275329-lyn-macdonald-books/?tab=comments#comment-2827507

 

Perhaps it would be better to start with something shorter.

 

There are many books with collections of stories such as the following available online (click on the coloured text for the online file)

 

Thrilling stories of the Great War on land and sea, in the air, under the water by Logan Marshall 1915 Archive.org

 

Soldiers' Stories of the War edited by Walter Wood 1915 Archive.org

 

In the Line of Battle: Soldiers' Stories of the War edited by Walter Wood 1916 Archive.org

 

True Stories of the Great War. Tales of Adventure-Heroic Deeds-Exploits Told by the Soldiers, Officers, Nurses, Diplomats, Eye Witnesses. Edited by Francis Trevelyan Miller 1917. In six volumes: Volume I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV, Vol. V, Vol. VI. All Archive.org

 

Deeds of heroism and bravery : the book of heroes and personal daring edited by Elwyn A Barron 1920 Archive.org

 

500 of the Best Cockney War Stories Reprinted from the London Evening News. 1920 Archive.org

 

Cheers

Maureen

 

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keithmroberts

Ash, another option to get a good overview of the war is to look at the books by Peter Hart, (OK he's a pal, with whom I argue frequently on non WW1 matters), but his books give a good readable start.  For an overview of the whole war, his book "The Great War 1914-1918" is a readable and sound introduction, It is "popular" history in one sense, but generally sound and easy to read.

I recommend the book even though he is a pal.

 

Keith

 

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Michelle Young

As suggested on your previous two threads, Lyn MacDonald might not be the books for you. Unfortunately, you have to read about the background before you get to the battle to understand why it was fought. Have you tried my suggestions of Covenant with Death and First Day on the Somme? 
Michelle 

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-I have briefly looked at First day on the Somme,  it sounds a good book but does it have actual accounts of what happened from the people that were there, like in Lyn Mcdonalds books?    I want to if possible read books in chronological order by an author.  Does Martin Middlebrook do a book starting from 1914?

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keithmroberts

if that is what you want, do follow my suggestion. Peter Hart , my most argumentative friend, has written a series of books on the Great War, roughly chronologically, and all involving personal narratives. Almost all of his working life was spent working for the IWM interviewing veterans, and his books use their words regularly.  I draw no commission from him, although he once bought me a beer. [Edit, maybe twice].

 

In the end, learning takes time, and that is why I suggest an overview volume to help you put your reading in context. The books Michelle suggests are both excellent; "The First day on the Somme" by Martin Gilbert makes use of personal experiences, and was the first introduction to the Great War for many of us.  "Covenant with Death" is fiction, just, but it puts a human face on a story that could have been told about most of the Pals Battalions that saw their first action on the Somme. It is a classic, readable and moving, although not strictly a history book.

 

Don't be put off, try one of them, and it won't be about persevering, you will want like so many of us, to learn more.

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Michelle Young

The books by Richard van Emden are also  very good. They give you the soldier’s experience. For chronological books though, Peter Hart are probably the best. Tommy by Richard Holmes will give you a good insight into a soldiers life.

Michelle 

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Ash,

 

Maureene has posted a link to your second post on this topic and Michelle has mentioned the first which is here

 

 

We appreciate it's difficult for newcomers to navigate the site and folk are trying to help but for their benefit perhaps they may like to refer to your original post.  The Long Long Trail, link top left was previously mentioned as a good introduction.  The site owner Chris Baker has also put together a list of recommended reading

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/recommended-reading/

which may help. Attempting to follow a chronological course is difficult, especially by a particular author, in any event authors do not necessarily follow the chronology of the war. 

 

For example Keith mentions Peter Hart, who incidentally has started a series of podcasts well worth a listen, but  I would recommend his Gallipoli (1915) and 1918 A Very British Victory but frankly I think there are more interesting books on the Somme (1916).  As others have noted best to read shorter accounts that may fire your imagination. 

 

There are plenty of memoirs out there now, but like Chris I am a big fan of George Coppards's 'With a Machine Gun to Cambrai' which can be picked up for pennies and as Chris notes,"With a machine gun to Cambrai by George Coppard ranks as one of the best of all memoirs of the First World War. His unit entered part way through the Battle of Loos and his descriptions of the area and fighting are vivid and evocative. If you only ever read one book on this war, this is it."  In my opinion that is not hyperbole George does get under your skin and as the later editions attest there are letters from many old comrades as an appendix who praise his acoount and tell him he has captured how it was for the 'ordinary' soldier.

 

Books on the 1914 are quite thin on the ground and are generally written by historians (Lynn Macdonald was a a radio producer who realised the stories of the combatants were being lost and like Martin Middlebrook, a farmer, set out to record their stories) as most of the battles were fought by men of the Regular Army.  The majority of the poets and authors came later.  Now there's a thought, WW1 poetry has been an avenue of introduction for many.  There are many useful suggestions on this and your previous threads the answer is I guess, just read and if it doesn't hold your interest discard it we all have a pile of 'unread' or 'to read' which we'll probably never get round to.  Also have a look at the what books are you reading thread.

 

 

 

Ken

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16 hours ago, Michelle Young said:

The books by Richard van Emden are also  very good. They give you the soldier’s experience. For chronological books though, Peter Hart are probably the best. Tommy by Richard Holmes will give you a good insight into a soldiers life.

Michelle 

 

Like Michelle said, Richard Holmes 'Riding the Retreat' deals with the BEF in 1914 and is very easy to read with plenty of accounts.

 

Scott

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Michelle Young

I'm re reading Riding the Retreat for the umpteenth time at the moment. It's a good book. 

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I think the problem with the Lyn Mcdonald book that im struggling with at the moment is that theres so much going on, she changes from the Cheshire regiment to something totally different, it's confusing.   So i think maybe should i read 1915 by lyn mcdonald as i know where i am with that as its about one battle not lots of things going on.

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43 minutes ago, Alecras234 said:

I think the problem with the Lyn Mcdonald book that im struggling with at the moment is that theres so much going on, she changes from the Cheshire regiment to something totally different, it's confusing.   So i think maybe should i read 1915 by lyn mcdonald as i know where i am with that as its about one battle not lots of things going on.

 

Ash,

 

I haven't read McDonald's book on 1914 so I can't comment too much about it. I have read her book on Passchendaele and quite enjoyed it and having another look through it she used maps of the battles with some of the men quoted within the book having their names placed on the map so you knew where they were on the battlefield. I don't know if that may have helped you follow the action.

 

Can I make a suggestion and say if you wish to really get involved in the subject of the early war it is good to read a couple of good books on the topic and when you come across something like a battalion of the Cheshire Regiment you are unsure of have a look at something like the Long Long Trail website. You can place a battalion within its division and then look at the order of battle to see who was with them in the division. Then have a look around the internet for further information.

 

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/cheshire-regiment/

 

I like McDonald's books because of the personal accounts, but it wasn't the first book I read on the subject of Passchendaele. From an Australian perspective I looked at the official history first and then read from there. I guess what I am saying is that the more you read about a campaign the more you will understand. Hope that helps and you wouldn't be the first person overwhelmed with information. 

 

Scott 

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  • 3 months later...
Alecras234
Posted (edited)

Right hello guys and gals,  my name is Ash, im 42 from North Wales.   I'm disabled and i use a wheelchair.   i suffered head injury when i was 6 years old which is frustrating when im trying to understand or learn about things.    I'm interested in War especially ww1 but im having problems with the the books im reading.  The books i reading are,  History in an hour, World war one,  this book i do understand and i am enjoying,  it covers the brief outline, no detail.    The second book is called 1914 days of hope by Lyn McDonald,  im enjoying the story but it's very confusing so i get frustrated and put it down.  With the history in an hour book, it starts off with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand which i understand but it doesnt cover the events before the assassination whereas Lyn's book does cover the build up briefly but in words that lose me and i get frustrated because i don't understand.   I want to enjoy knowing and reading about the history of ww1 and understand battles.  Can you suggest how the learning process could be made easier for me please? 

 

Also, i like ww1 tanks, i have a book called Tank Hunter which i'm enjoying reading but I don't know which ww1 tanks i should read about, there's 3 british tanks that weren't even ready until after the war so.   I've read and learnt some things about the mk1 4 and 5, but which others should i learn about, the ones that fought in the war or the ones that were ready after ww1?

 

Thank you.

Edited by Alecras234
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David Filsell

Mr A

Thanks for your posting. It's not an easy question. I think probably that each and every one of us interested in the Great War, with or without disability, has had the same problem - I know I did when I started and stlll do now from time to time. Key is never try to read a book, fail and then feel guilty about not finishing it. Move on, try something else. Be patient with yourself - getting impatient with authors is not a bad thing. Keep simple keynotes. Check difficult words, terminology and definitions on the internet as you go. You can also use Google to check- out most things. The key is patience with your self and the author. Finally, if you are not enjoying the task you have set your self you can move on.

My view though is  keep going at your own pace, read what you enjoy, enjoy leaving those which you don't. Best of luck

David

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Alecras234

Do i need to learn what happened in the Balkans before Bosnia was annexed in 1908, can't i just learn my ww1 journey from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand onwards?

 

Ash

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depaor01
7 minutes ago, Alecras234 said:

can't i just learn my ww1 journey from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand onwards?

 

Ash

Yes you can absolutely. There's no right or wrong way. Pick and choose to suit yourself.

A great overview is the BBC Great War DVD. The series was filmed in 1965 and has many veterans being interviewed  Watch them all. Take notes. Anything that stands out for you, concentrate on reading about that.

 

If it's any comfort,  I find descriptions of battle movements VERY difficult to follow!

 

Dave

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Michelle Young
16 minutes ago, Alecras234 said:

Do i need to learn what happened in the Balkans before Bosnia was annexed in 1908, can't i just learn my ww1 journey from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand onwards?

 

Ash

I've never read about what happened in the Balkans in 1908, and I've been reading about the Great War for 35 years! 

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sassenach

As has been said above, there are no rules. Sooner or later you will probably come across something that really grabs your interest, and you may want to specialise in that, at least for a while, rather than try to learn everything, which is pretty much impossible.

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Make sure you read things thatinterest you. Flick through the various forum headings and see if a particular topic hits you. The Great War has mant topics where knowing the history of it is not needed.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Hi Ash,

I'm originally from North Wales too, but live down south now.

Read to enjoy, you don't have to commit everything you read to memory.

When I decide to read something, I often find that an interesting fact catches my eye, and I decide to follow that fact and follow that up instead.

And while following that fact, another one comes along and interests me.

Yo don't have to start a book at the begining and slog painfully through it, you can dip into books for as long or as short as you want.

The secret to learning is to enjoy it and be thrilled by it.

That leaves you wanting more.

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