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Max Egremont was born in 1948 and studied Modern History at Oxford University. As well as four novels, he is the author of The Cousins and Balfour: A Life of Arthur James Balfour. His acclaimed biography of Siegfried Sassoon was published in 2005 and his most recent work is Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia.
A study of the poetry of the First World War, made, not in isolation but set against a history of the war itself, putting the poetry into context. We learn too about the poets, their writing and their role in the war, above all we learn why these men were inspired to write their experiences into verse. Like for Like Reading The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, Various The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell
A great insight in to this remarkable man. What makes it all the more interesting is that the author collaborated with Sassoon’s son, George, and for the first time we get a very intimate portrait of one of our great literary figures.
For many, before 1914, a huge European war had seemed impossible. Conflicts in the Balkans flared up yet stayed contained. The Belgian historian Henri Pirenne wrote to a friend in December 1905: Do you really believe in the possibility of a war? For me it is impossible to have the least fear in that regard. In March 1912, the British peer Lord Esher - an authority on defence matters - told an audience of Britain's senior Generals that war becomes every day more difficult and improbable . After all, what could be gained by war? In 1909, the British writer Norman Angell claimed that with the increasing interdependence of nations war could not benefit the victor. All participating countries would be impoverished; the idea of victory was a great illusion . In this short guide Max Egremont looks at controversies which have raged over the years. What caused the war? Who should be blamed for its outbreak? Should Britain have joined in and, after it did, were its soldiers really, as has been claimed, lions led by donkeys ? What was America's role? And was the final peace settlement as fair and sensible as possible in the circumstances or, by humiliating Germany, did the Allies pave the way to a Second World War, a truly global conflict which turned out to be even bloodier and more destructive than the First?
The life of Siegfried Sassoon has been recorded and interpreted in literature and film for over half a century. He is one of the great figures of the First World War, and Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer are still widely read, as are his poems, which did much to shape our present ideas about the Great War. Sassoon was a genuine hero, a brave young officer who also became the war's most famous opponent, risking imprisonment and even a death sentence by throwing his Military Cross into the Mersey. He was friend to Robert Graves, mentor to Wilfred Owen and much admired by Churchill. But Sassoon was more than the embodiment of a romantic ideal; he was in many senses the perfect product of a vanished age. And many questions about his character, unique experience and motivations have remained unanswered until now. Siegfried Sassoon's life has been recorded and interpreted in literature and film for over half a century. But this poet, First World War hero, friend to Robert Graves and mentor to Wilfred Owen, was more than the embodiment of a romantic ideal. Passionately involved with the aristocratic aesthete Stephen Tennant, married abruptly to the beautiful Hester Gatty, estranged, isolated, and a late Catholic convert, his private story has never before been told in such depth. Egremont discovers a man born in a vanished age, unhappy with his homosexuality and the modernist revolution that appeared to threaten the survival of his work, and engaged in an enduring personal battle between idealism and the world in which he moved. Shortlisted for the 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Autobiography
East Prussia is no longer on any map, though it was once a thriving land, famously military, deeply forested, artistically fertile, and the birthplace of Immanuel Kant. As the scene of Stalin's `terrible revenge' it came to embody the turbulence of the twentieth century, was carved up between Poland and the USSR after World War II - and passed abruptly into history. Embarking on a remarkable journey through landscape and memory, Max Egremont has woven the stories of ghosts and survivors into an evocative and deeply moving meditation on identity and the passing of time. `East Prussia's successful evocation demands both the mind of a poet who can delineate the scale of human loss, and the imagination of an historian who knows how to count the cost. Forgotten Land, a work of consummate artistry, blends both capacities to rare effect' Spectator `Changing frontiers, blurred racial identities, shifting allegiances and the mass movement of people - this a story for our time' New Statesman `Illuminating. A literary map to a beguiling hidden enclave of Europe' Metro `Egremont's compelling tale exploits his boundless intellectual curiosity, mastery of German and eye for whimsy as well as tragedy. The book's canvas is remarkable. Fascinating reading' Max Hastings, Sunday Times