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Remembered Today:

What WW1 books are you reading?


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JOHN BALL

Just purchased the Kindle edition of Richard Van Emden's 'Missing', price £1-98p. A bargain,?.

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KernelPanic

Definitely a bargain! Thanks for the tip.

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16 hours ago, JOHN BALL said:

Just purchased the Kindle edition of Richard Van Emden's 'Missing', price £1-98p. A bargain,?.

 

that's better than what I found… still at 7€... deal with myself: first read five more off the list and then I can buy one new… might come quicker than I thought.

Right now, next on the list is JL Dron's book on the hospitals of Le Tréport.

 

M.

 

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ilkley remembers

Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-18. Alexander Watson.

 

A thoroughly researched academic monograph based on the author’s doctoral thesis this book basically explains why the German Army failed in the second half of 1918, whilst morale in the British Army, largely unaffected by the crisis of the spring offensive, contributed to ultimate victory.

 

Watson uses the phrase ‘ordered surrender’ which was essentially the result of apathy amongst German troops, to describe their collapse of morale in the final weeks of the war. His argument and analysis is extremely convincing and is much broader in approach than some standard explanations of the Allied victory in 1918.

 

The book isn’t without controversy and includes a very negative view of the BEF in 1914 and its ‘poor performance’ in battle, something which will no doubt provoke a mixed response from some members of this forum. Nevertheless, this book is an excellent and challenging read.

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Cornerstones - Katherine Swinfen Eady. Published by Helion and Company

 

Published in 2019, Cornerstones, The Life of HM Farmer, from Omdurman to the Western Front is Katherine Swinfen Eady's first book. However, this certainly doesn't show; the writing is clear and concise and the story is well put together, with a combination of Katherine's own research, sensible interpretation and detailed quotes from Farmer's letters and subsequent writings.

 

Cornerstones should be required reading for all staff officers - but particularly those destined to work in an international/multi-national headquarters. It demonstrates, convincingly, the value of an effective staff, the importance of being able to work and maintain relationships up and down the chain of command, and the need for learning, interpretation and teaching. That said, the book offers something for almost everybody, particularly the magpies of military history. It ranges from the Sudan Campaign and Omdurman, via South Africa, through Gallipoli to the 1918 battles of the Western Front. It particularly sheds new light on the Gallipoli landings of 86th Brigade on V, W and X beaches on 25 April 1915, when Farmer took command of the Brigade following the evacuation of the Brigadier and the subsequent death of the Brigade Major.

 

Cornerstones is also a love story. It tells not only of the love between Mynors Farmer and his wife, Violet, but how they held their relationship together through the most difficult of circumstances. And also how they gave their children some normality through those same circumstances. And it convincingly demonstrates Katherine's own love for her grandparents and the great-grandparents she never knew.

 

One note of caution. Do ensure you get a copy complete with the index. Some early run copies were printed without. These were supposed to have been destroyed but it appears at least some have made it onto the market.

 

In summary - highly recommended.

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charlie2

I‘m just reading „Die Rückführung des Ostheeres“ - The repatriation of the Army from the east - unfortunately there isn‘t a translation so it will only appeal to those who can read German or have a lot of patience with google translate.

 

The book describes the difficulties encountered during the German Army‘s return home from the eastern front - the soldiers councils and their  effect or lack of it and the chaos they sometimes caused, encounters with paramilitaries/ bandits etc. Also mentioned is that some units descended into what can be best described as an undisciplined rabble, while others remained proud military units. 
 

A very interesting book on a subject I knew next to nothing about, well worth a read.

Charlie

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ilkley remembers

George Burdon McKean was the son of a coal miner cum furniture dealer from County Durham who emigrated to Canada before the war where he trained for the clergy. His autobiographical 'Scouting Skills; The Memoir of a Scout Officer in the Great War' concentrates entirely on his service with the 14th Battalion CEF where he rose from the rank of Private to Captain and survived the war. This is real Boys Own adventure stuff  highlighting the work of battalion scouts, but what really comes through is his irrepressible nature and astonishing bravery. For his many courageous deeds McKean was awarded the Military Medal, Miitary Cross and in April 1918 the Victoria Cross. Its a cracking read and is free via archive.org and as a paperback from the usual sources.

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Len Trim

I have just finished reading The Fortress by Alexander Watson. It is every bit as good as many others on this forum have said. I learnt a great deal about the war in this area of the Eastern Front, the savage religious, nationalist and racial rivalries and the sheer incompetence of the Austro-Hungarian army. I must now find other reading material which explains how they managed to stagger on for another three years to the end of the war. 

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DoughboyOTT
11 hours ago, Len Trim said:

I have just finished reading The Fortress by Alexander Watson. It is every bit as good as many others on this forum have said. I learnt a great deal about the war in this area of the Eastern Front, the savage religious, nationalist and racial rivalries and the sheer incompetence of the Austro-Hungarian army. I must now find other reading material which explains how they managed to stagger on for another three years to the end of the war. 

Have you read The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 by Holger Herwig? I haven't read it yet, but I often see it cited as a great book on the subject. 

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Marilyne

Starting with Jean-Luc Dron's book on the British and Canadian hospitals at Le Tréport (got the PFD version) and the classic "Now it can be told" by Philipp Gibbs. two books at the same time… quite normal!!

Herwig's take on the war is a very good one. interesting to read it from the other side…

 

M.

 

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DoughboyOTT
1 hour ago, Marilyne said:

Herwig's take on the war is a very good one. interesting to read it from the other side…

I read his book on the Marne and loved it. It gave me such a good understanding of the opening phase of the war. I need to dig into his other material. 

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Len Trim
12 hours ago, DoughboyOTT said:

Have you read The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 by Holger Herwig? I haven't read it yet, but I often see it cited as a great book on the subject. 

I have not read this particular book so have now added it to the 'must read' list.

Thank you.

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As this is my first post and have not read through all 140 pages in this thread, I hope you'll forgive me for suggesting a couple of books that have probably been highlighted before.

 

I have just finished A World Undone by G. J. Meyer, I could not put this book down. In fact, as we are currently in Covid lockdown and our Library is closed, I've started from the beginning again.. I'm sure I missed something first time through.

 

Another book I highly recommend is Three Day Road by Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden.

Joseph’s maternal grandfather, as well as an uncle on his father’s side, served as soldiers during the First World War, and Boyden draws upon a wealth of family narratives. This novel follows the journey of two young Cree men, Xavier and Elijah, who volunteer for that war and become snipers during the conflict.

The novel was inspired in part by real-life aboriginal World War I heroes Francis Pegahmagabow and John Shiwak. In addition it seems relevant that Boyden's father Raymond Wilfrid Boyden was a medical officer renowned for his bravery, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and was the most highly decorated medical officer of World War II. [From Wikipedia]

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Marilyne

Welcome, T Bone, and thanks for the tip !!

 

M.

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Resurgam13

Just finished " Boche and Bolshevik: Experiences of an Englishman in the German Army and in Russian Prisons " (John Murray, 1919) by the wonderfully-named Hereward Thimbleby Price. According to his Wikipedia entry: "Price was born 23 April 1880 in a small town in Madagascar named Ambatolahinandrianisiahana as a son of Mary Anne "Polly" Thimbleby and Charles Thomas Price (1847-1933), an English missionary. Returning to England, he was educated at various private schools, and in 1899 he was matriculated at the University of Oxford. During this time he also worked as an assistant in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. In 1904 he was appointed lecturer for English at the University of Bonn, where he wrote and published his thesis A history of ablaut in the strong verbs from Caxton to the end of the Elizabethan period (1910). In 1911, while living in Germany, Price married and became naturalized as a German citizen. Subsequently, he was drafted into the German army during World War I. He was captured by Russian soldiers, but escaped to China."

 

When Price was conscripted in Germany, it was with the assurance that he not be sent to the Western Front, so it off to the Eastern Front where he was soon captured. He appears to have had a greater affinity with the average Russian soldier than with many of the so-called Allies he was imprisoned with in Siberia. An absolutely fascinating read.

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KernelPanic
20 minutes ago, Resurgam13 said:

Just finished " Boche and Bolshevik: Experiences of an Englishman in the German Army and in Russian Prisons " (John Murray, 1919) by the wonderfully-named Hereward Thimbleby Price. ...

 

Thanks. It sounds like a worthwhile read.

A PDF version can be downloaded from archive.org

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Black Maria

Just finished reading John Foley's ' The Boilerplate War ' a very readable and atmospheric account of the first tank men , drawing on their personal recollections .

Now I've starting to read my copy of Browne's 'The Tank in Action' and have just realised it's previous owner was Brig-Gen John Hardress-Lloyd who was the

commander of D battalion and later 3 brigade of the Tank Corps .

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16 hours ago, Black Maria said:

Just finished reading John Foley's ' The Boilerplate War ' a very readable and atmospheric account of the first tank men , drawing on their personal recollections .

Now I've starting to read my copy of Browne's 'The Tank in Action' and have just realised it's previous owner was Brig-Gen John Hardress-Lloyd who was the

commander of D battalion and later 3 brigade of the Tank Corps .

Agree the Boilerplate War is very readable  -but it's lack of attribution leaves lots of detective work to do. Which is both fun and frustrating at the same time!

Where do you acquire your copy of The Tank in Action from? Sadly my copy has no such illustrious past!

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Black Maria
1 hour ago, pjwmacro said:

Agree the Boilerplate War is very readable  -but it's lack of attribution leaves lots of detective work to do. Which is both fun and frustrating at the same time!

Where do you acquire your copy of The Tank in Action from? Sadly my copy has no such illustrious past!

I purchased it last year from an e-bay book seller and the name written in the book went over my head until now . It's only because I've been reading quite a few

Tank Corps books recently where his name has appeared that it rang a bell with me .

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I am currently reading Murderous Tommies by Julian Putkowski and Mark Dunning.

 

Mmmmm. I think I'll pass on making a comment.

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Gunner Bailey

Just read "War is War" by Private X. Interesting companion to Her Privates We and Old Soldiers Never Die. Worth reading if you find it.

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3 hours ago, maxi said:

I am currently reading Murderous Tommies by Julian Putkowski and Mark Dunning.

 

Mmmmm. I think I'll pass on making a comment.

 

why???

have it as "tryout" on Kindl…

 

M.

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7 hours ago, Black Maria said:

it last year from an e-bay book seller

Congratulations

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Black Maria
16 minutes ago, pjwmacro said:

Congratulations

:thumbsup:

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In the mid 50's I was given a book by my grandad; it was a hard bound copy of The Times History Of The War - On Land and Sea. 

 

As a 7 or 8 year old I was captivated by the photographs, illustrations and the maps. Although this volume covers only the first few months of the conflict, it certainly piqued my interest in the Great War.

I remember finding the writing ponderous and difficult. I was content to pour over the illustrations but I hoped to one day find if more volumes existed.

 

Years ago I was perusing a used book store in down town Toronto and came across about 4 or 5 more volumes, each covering different timelines.  I kick myself for not grabbing them at the time.

 

Searching the web recently I have found many sellers offering 22 volume sets.

These all seem to be bound in red, unlike the black bound volume in my possession. 

 

I’m wondering if anyone knows anything about the books bound in black as apposed to the red versions?

 

IMG_2017.JPG.2ee08e00444749a4b498d97d4da20abe.JPG

 

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