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What WW1 books are you reading?

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Knotty

Done a battlefields tour a few years back, which was led by Victor, not that he was pushing his and Richards book at the time,¬†but my one is a signed copyūüėĀ.

Yes a good read on some well known individuals who took part in the conflict.

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David Spencer

Just in case nobody's said it yet: Lice, by Blaise Cendrars is fantastic.

Not sure how much is fact embellished into fiction, but as a snapshot of legionnaire rogues at large in the Gt War, it's a grand read.

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keithmroberts

I am just working through   "Balkan Breakthrough: the Battle of Dobro Polo 1918"   by Richard C Hall.

 

The first part of the book attempts, more fully than any other I have read, to explain the Balkan background of the years before the war. I was quite bemused by the differing interests of the local states that emerged from the collapsing Ottoman Empire and of the surrounding major powers. 

 

I would love to find an English language historical atlas that shows the frequently changed boundaries of the region from say 1875 until the present day,  The complexities of events prior to the Great War are explained carefully, but still cause me some bafflement. An interesting aspect of the book is that much of the research draws heavily on Bulgarian sources rarely drawn on in other books that I have read on the Salonika campaign. Particular emphasis is laid upon the sagging morale of the Bulgarian troops by 1918 and their problems of supply. The focus is largely in the Bulgarian units facing the French, Serbian, and later Greek forces, so it covers a lot of new ground for me.

 

Edited by keithmroberts

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NorthStaffsPOW
4 hours ago, keithmroberts said:

I am just working through   "Balkan Breakthrough: the Battle of Dobro Polo 1918"   by Richard C Hall.

 

The first part of the book attempts, more fully than any other I have read, to explain the Balkan background of the years before the war. I was quite bemused by the differing interests of the local states that emerged from the collapsing Ottoman Empire and of the surrounding major powers. 

 

I would love to find an English language historical atlas that shows the frequently changed boundaries of the region from say 1875 until the present day,  The complexities of events prior to the Great War are explained carefully, but still cause me some bafflement. An interesting aspect of the book is that much of the research draws heavily on Bulgarian sources rarely drawn on in other books that I have read on the Salonika campaign. Particular emphasis is laid upon the sagging morale of the Bulgarian troops by 1918 and their problems of supply. The focus is largely in the Bulgarian units facing the French, Serbian, and later Greek forces, so it covers a lot of new ground for me.

 

I'm glad you have endorsed Balkan Breakthrough Keith. I have literally just picked it out of the "to read" pile and will get started on it tonight. Like you I am interested in the Balkan Theatre of the First World War so was looking for something a bit different, which this apparently is. Many thanks. 

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Marilyne

Holed up at my parent's house in Spain... cold, rain and really WINTER conditions (road to Granada was closed this morning due to ice and snow, believe it or not) and so time enough to read, with the heating on and the snoring Jack Russell next to it... right now reading The War Diary of the Master of Belhaven and will then follow (on the plance back wednesday if not cancelled) with "A Foreign Field" by Ben McIntyre.

 

Greetz from the blizzard. 

 

M.

 

 

 

 

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johnboy

Climate change Eh!

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Marilyne

Right... or just a good excuse to go shopping and buy a nice warm sweater... and something nice to wear to the conference in March!! 

 

M.

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ilkley remembers

‚ÄėMy Four Years in Germany‚Äô is James Watson Gerard‚Äôs account of his time as US Ambassador to Germany from 1913 until he was asked to leave Jan. 1917 just before America entered the war. He was no great lover of Germans and he harboured a particular loathing for Prussian militarism, which gives his recollections a rather partisan flavour. Nevertheless, his thoughts are interesting because from August 1914 onwards he assumed responsibility for British interests in the country, which included ensuring the fair treatment of POWs by their German captors. Indeed, he was instrumental in arranging the repatriation of severely prisoners including George Goschen, a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards who just happened to be the son of the pre-war British Ambassador to Germany, Sir William Edward Goschen.

 

This is an interesting and illuminating account of the mindset of the German Government and their clear wish not to involve the US in the war. It is also excellent in describing how Germany was governed during this period including the control which the Germany Army was able to exercise over the civilian authorities.

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KizmeRD
‚ÄėMy escape from Donington hall, preceded by an account of the siege of Kiao-Chow in 1915‚Äô
 
The story begins in Tsingtao,¬†a German colonial enclave in China, also known to us as Kiao-Chow (modern day Qingdao). It is a personal narrative written by a very remarkable german naval aviator named Gunther Pl√ľschow.¬†
Following the unsuccessful defence of Kiao-Chow, he evades capture by the Japanese and attempts to make his way home using false travel documents. He gets a passage on a ship to America, and then crosses the Atlantic on board another ship, however the  British authorities inspect the vessel at Gibraltar and discover his true identity. He’s then made a PoW and is taken to England. After a short while he makes good an escape from his prison camp and stows away on a neutral steamer to the Continent - thus becoming the only successful German home run of the war.
He's certainly a highly resourceful chap, but that said, he’s not too likeable.

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Marilyne

Have Gina Kolata's "Flu: The story of the Great inluenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it" lined up as next to read. 

Anyone else here read it?? Did not find any reference on the forum to the book, but it was availbale in the Defence library, so... 

 

M.

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Fattyowls
4 minutes ago, Marilyne said:

Have Gina Kolata's "Flu: The story of the Great inluenza pandemic of 1918 and the search for the virus that caused it" lined up as next to read. 

Anyone else here read it?? Did not find any reference on the forum to the book, but it was availbale in the Defence library, so... 

 

M.

 

That sounds really interesting, and disturbingly topical too. Top tip.

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kenf48

Reading the fascinating ¬†‚ÄėThe Vanquished Why the First World War Failed to End 1917-1923‚Äô Robert Gerwarth

 

I’m grateful to forum pal Uncle George for this link originally posted in the Amritsar Massacre thread

https://reviews.history.ac.uk/review/2045

The positive describes the book in greater detail than here.  The central thesis of the book being that whilst the war ended at the Armistice fo France, and arguably the United Kingdom across the remaining belligerent nations murder, mayhem and political upheaval and revolution continued  unabated.  Essential reading for anyone interested in the legacy of the violence of the Great War.

 

Ken

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Waddell

Action at Badama Post by Paul Macro.

 

There aren‚Äôt many First World War books published that cover operations on the North West Frontier during the war and the Third Afghan War that followed shortly afterwards. In fact, looking through my book collection, C.P Mills ‚ÄėA Strange War‚Äô, which was published in 1988, may be the last book published which looks at the life of particular soldiers on the frontier so closely. So, when this book was published last year it went on to the Christmas list.

 

I think what Paul Macro has done with this book is what many of us on this forum have attempted to do over the years, that is to put some context around an action where a relative served. In Paul’s case it is his grandfather, Sergeant Bill Macro, who at the time was serving with 22nd Battery Motor Machine Gun Service. The book is centred on a report Bill Macro wrote concerning his involvement with the downing of an RAF Bristol Fighter towards the very end of the Third Afghan War near the foot of a post at Badama, near the Afghanistan border, in late July 1919.

 

The crew of the plane were injured and rescued by men of the MMGS and the Kurram Militia shortly after the crash. The following day was spent salvaging gear from the downed aircraft. The action as the author puts ‚Äėchanged nothing in the overall impact of the Third Afghan War but was typical of the minor actions fought throughout its course. It was also typical of many of the actions fought all along the North West Frontier, both before the war and subsequently‚Äô.

 

What the author does is break down the reasons for the war, the course of the war, the units and men involved and their lives before and after the war into a lot of detail. He also writes very clearly and lays a logical and directed path through the book (perhaps his military background coming through) which makes it a very easy book to read. I would, however, recommend copying the maps from the book and keeping them near whilst reading.

 

What I liked most about the book was the details of and the actions of the main characters, MMGS men, 20 Squadron RAF men and the Kurram Militia. Paul Macro had to piece a lot of the story together and doesn’t shy away from that in the book and overall I think he has done a fine job with the story. The point is made in the foreword that the story could have come from any age. In 1919 it was a contemporary fighter aircraft that fell to a single Pathan bullet. The book is a reminder of how little has changed with conflict in that area of the world.

 

Recommended if you have an interest in a lesser known theatre of the war.

 

Scott

Badama.JPG

Edited by Waddell
Correction

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keithmroberts

Eva Shaw Mclaren : A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals.

 

I'm fascinated by the various independent medical operations that were created and that served other nations during the war.  My focus is on the chapters relating to Serbia and South Russia. When I think of the role played by the housewives of my Yorkshire childhood, the drive initiative and courage of these units in particular is amazing. While the women doctors in some cases at least had their roots in the Suffragette movement, many of the younger women seem to have made the leap from narrow constrained social structures into heading bravely into the unknown. The trained and experienced nurses at least had gained some life experience, but other young women just served as orderlies and ambulance drivers from a standing start. Taking charge of a 1915 Ford van/truck in mountainous terrain over the dirt tracks that were the nearest things to roads outside the cities must have been an a new and sometimes frightening experience.The Ostrovo hospital  (all tented) was created just in time to receive casualties from the battle of Gornichevo which was within  a very few miles.

I have much more to learn, but it was clearly not just front line soldiers who showed great courage.

Edited by keithmroberts

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Marilyne
On ‚Äé27‚Äé/‚Äé01‚Äé/‚Äé2020 at 21:35, Fattyowls said:

 

That sounds really interesting, and disturbingly topical too. Top tip.

 

Finished it pretty quickly… Kolata's book is not really a WWI book, but more of a medical detective story, looking for the virus and how it was found. It’s nicely and more importantly, comprehensively written: Kolata makes the whole medical jargon understandable for any layman. It's more focused on the flu in the US, on the civilian side.

 

M.

Edited by Marilyne

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Fattyowls
4 hours ago, Marilyne said:

 

Finished it pretty quickly… Kolata's book is not really a WWI book, but more of a medical detective story, looking for the virus and how it was found. It’s nicely and more importantly, comprehensively written: Kolata makes the whole medical jargon understandable for any layman. It's more focused on the flu in the US, on the civilian side.

 

M.

 

Does the book cover the origin of the virus? I saw a documentary that suggested it came from a farm boy in the mid west that picked it up from chickens if I remember correctly. I've never found anything to confirm this. Worth a look anyway, the Spanish flu is a significant part of WW1 even though it had a much wider impact.

 

Pete.

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seaJane
4 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

Does the book cover the origin of the virus?

I remember seeing a tv documentary about this years ago, well before 2014, which suggested that it was a mutated form of swine or bird flu that had crossed the animal/human barrier in the √Čtaples region (where there were a lot of pig and poultry farms) and acquired added virulence from crossing species again towards the end of 1918 when a huge holding camp for returning soldiers was set up in the same location.

 

sJ

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Fattyowls
2 hours ago, seaJane said:

I remember seeing a tv documentary about this years ago, well before 2014, which suggested that it was a mutated form of swine or bird flu that had crossed the animal/human barrier in the √Čtaples region (where there were a lot of pig and poultry farms) and acquired added virulence from crossing species again towards the end of 1918 when a huge holding camp for returning soldiers was set up in the same location.

 

sJ

 

Interesting; the TV documentary I'm thinking of suggested a US source and it crossing the Atlantic on the USS Leviathan, formerly a German liner, which Humphrey Bogart served on incidentally, but only after the end of hostilities. I do remember one of the experts interviewed was slighly sinister, smiling a lot while describing millions of deaths......

 

Thanks sJ, good to see that your birthday party is still in full swing........

 

Pete.

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Marilyne
6 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

 

Does the book cover the origin of the virus? I saw a documentary that suggested it came from a farm boy in the mid west that picked it up from chickens if I remember correctly. I've never found anything to confirm this. Worth a look anyway, the Spanish flu is a significant part of WW1 even though it had a much wider impact.

 

Pete.

 

Well it covers it without really going into details. The book is more about who went in search for what, how they found 80 year old lung fragments and went looking for corpses in the permafrost in Alaska to find out about what made the virus so special. About the origin, I understood it so that her hypothesis is that the the virus must have been present all along, just dormant until it decided to strike. 

 

M.

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Fattyowls
3 minutes ago, Marilyne said:

 

Well it covers it without really going into details. The book is more about who went in search for what, how they found 80 year old lung fragments and went looking for corpses in the permafrost in Alaska to find out about what made the virus so special. About the origin, I understood it so that her hypothesis is that the the virus must have been present all along, just dormant until it decided to strike. 

 

M.

 

Appreciated MM.

 

Pete.

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kenf48

 

7 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

 

Does the book cover the origin of the virus? I saw a documentary that suggested it came from a farm boy in the mid west that picked it up from chickens if I remember correctly. I've never found anything to confirm this. Worth a look anyway, the Spanish flu is a significant part of WW1 even though it had a much wider impact.

 

Pete.

 

The Etaples hypothesis was posited by Professor John Oxford 

http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/body-and-mind/the-influenza-pandemic-of-1918/

a very¬†eminent virologist his¬†article identifies a possible ‚Äėpatient one‚Äô named in his article and pushes the origin of the pandemic back to 1916-17. ¬†

 

The 1918  pandemic had three waves, the most deadly period was during the second wave between October and December when it was estimated two thirds of the deaths occurred world wide, the greatest mortality in this period was in India.

 

The US CDC places the first cases of the H1N1 virus in the United States at Camp Funston, Kansas in March 1918

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/pandemic-timeline-1918.htm

which confirms the documentary you saw, which presumably had a US perspective. 

 

While there is no real consensus as to its origin there is no doubt the large concentration and movement of soldiers serving in the armies of the Great War facilitated the spread across the world.  While there was little understanding and few precautions taken to prevent the spread of the virus, there is still uncertainty as to the high mortality.

 

The discovery and reconstruction of the virus is described on the CDC site which is an invaluable source of information on this and subsequent pandemics.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html

 

Ken 

 

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Fattyowls
24 minutes ago, kenf48 said:

 

 

The Etaples hypothesis was posited by Professor John Oxford 

http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/body-and-mind/the-influenza-pandemic-of-1918/

a very¬†eminent virologist his¬†article identifies a possible ‚Äėpatient one‚Äô named in his article and pushes the origin of the pandemic back to 1916-17. ¬†

 

The 1918  pandemic had three waves, the most deadly period was during the second wave between October and December when it was estimated two thirds of the deaths occurred world wide, the greatest mortality in this period was in India.

 

The US CDC places the first cases of the H1N1 virus in the United States at Camp Funston, Kansas in March 1918

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/pandemic-timeline-1918.htm

which confirms the documentary you saw, which presumably had a US perspective. 

 

While there is no real consensus as to its origin there is no doubt the large concentration and movement of soldiers serving in the armies of the Great War facilitated the spread across the world.  While there was little understanding and few precautions taken to prevent the spread of the virus, there is still uncertainty as to the high mortality.

 

The discovery and reconstruction of the virus is described on the CDC site which is an invaluable source of information on this and subsequent pandemics.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/reconstruction-1918-virus.html

 

Ken 

 

 

Absolutely brilliant Ken, yet again. Kwolity with a capital K.....

 

Pete.

Edited by Fattyowls

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seaJane

As a side-note, populations such as islanders and ships' crews were at particular risk of high mortality because they had had no exposure to anything which allowed them to build up resistance. I'm looking for a source for this - I know it's out there...

 

 

Edited by seaJane
trypo

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Black Maria

Just finished reading ' Happy Days in France and Flanders ' by Father Benedict Williamson who was a Roman Catholic chaplain in the 49th and 47th 

divisions from the Battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917 until the Armistice . He was a brave man who worked tirelessly helping the wounded and 

dying and often performing religious services under heavy shell fire . I enjoyed reading it but it did suffer for the lack of maps .

 

One reason i decided to read this book is that it is going to be reprinted by P&S with the welcome addition of maps , photos and additional information 

on some of the characters mentioned in the book . The P&S blurb says that he served in 1/5th West Riding regt throughout the war , which is wrong as

he later joined the 47th division (Dec1917), and after the battalion reorganisations of 1918 he served with 17th London regt until the armistice .

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Dust Jacket Collector

Thanks for the recommendation, BM. I’ve had the book for nearly thirty years and never read it. Now’s the time.

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