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Richard Van Emden - Author

About the Author

Richard van Emden has interviewed over 270 veterans of the Great War and has written fourteen books on the subject including Boy Soldiers of the Great War and The Last Fighting Tommy. He has also worked on more than a dozen television programmes on the First World War, including Britain's Last Tommies, Britain's Boy Soldiers, the award-winning Roses of No Man's Land, and most recently, War Horse: The Real Story. He lives in West London.

Featured books by Richard Van Emden

Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs

Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Conventional histories of the Great War have tended to focus on the terrible attritional battles of Ypres, of Arras and of the Somme. What they do not tell us is what life was like for the ordinary soldier, what mattered to him, and how he survived, both physically and mentally. Now for the first time, one of Britain's leading military historians, Richard van Emden tells the story of the Great War exclusively through the words and images of soldiers on the ground. In Tommy's War, he gathers some of the very best first-hand material written about the War, some of it published at the time and forgotten, some of it previously unpublished, but all of it wonderfully descriptive and immediate, and often wickedly funny. Tommy humour, frequently very dark, played a vital part in men's mental survival, particularly in times of great stress. Until now its critical role in victory has been overlooked. Richard van Emden restores the balance, giving weight to the soldiers' natural inclination to laugh during their darkest moments. Illustrating these eyewitness accounts with soldiers' own photographs taken on privately owned cameras, often tiny Vest Pocket Kodaks - the smart phones of their day - van Emden has created an entirely new and fresh history of the Great War, giving us a glimpse of 'Tommy Atkins' as he has never been seen before.

ebook of the month
Meeting the Enemy The Human Face of the Great War

Meeting the Enemy The Human Face of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/04/2014

A British soldier walked over to the German front line to deliver newspapers; British women married to Germans became 'enemy aliens' in their own country; a high-ranking British POW discussed his own troops' heroism with the Kaiser on the battlefield. Just three amazing stories of contact between the opposing sides in the Great War that eminent historian Richard van Emden has unearthed - incidents that show brutality, great humanity, and above all the bizarre nature of a conflict between two nations with long-standing ties of kinship and friendship. Meeting the Enemy reveals for the first time how contact was maintained on many levels throughout the War, and its stories, sometimes funny, often moving, give us a new perspective on the lives of ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary events.

ebook of the month

Other books by Richard Van Emden

Missing: The Need for Closure after the Great War

Missing: The Need for Closure after the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/10/2019

How long would you look for a missing son, even if you knew he was dead? How long could you justify such a search? Two years? Five years? A lifetime? Angela Mond's son, a Royal Air Force pilot, had been shot down and killed, but where was his body? Francis, Angela's hero son, had fought in 1915; he had been injured and suffered severe shell-shock, but returned voluntarily to France three years later to help stem the German spring offensive. Now, post-war, what hope had Angela of finding him, his body presumed to be amongst the legions of those with no known grave? Angela's grief drove her to the battlefields in a seemingly hopeless search, longing also to find some semblance of personal peace. The motivation for her search transcends time; it was a desperate need for closure. But does closure really exist? Best selling author Richard van Emden tells Angela's gripping story, exploring its wider implications and repercussions. How long would the country look for its war dead and how did the public react when that search appeared to end prematurely? France and Belgium were liberated, but did the rights of civilians to their own land conflict with the Allies' wish to build cemeteries and memorials for the fallen??As financial austerity bit hard, how much money could be spent on the dead when the living, the survivors, needed help? Using a remarkable collection of previously unseen images, Missing is a sweeping, epic story that is as resonant and relevant today, as a hundred years ago.

1918 The Decisive Year in Soldiers' own Words and Photographs

1918 The Decisive Year in Soldiers' own Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/11/2018

1918 proved to be the Allies' year of victory, but what a monumental effort it was! From the moment Germany launched its all-out Spring offensive to win the war, British and Empire troops fought a tenacious and often last-ditch rearguard action. The Germans gambled with their best, battle-hardened men in one desperate offensive after another, searching for a decisive breakthrough that never came. In those dark days of March, April and May 1918, Allied troops were tested as never before, their morale placed under microscopic scrutiny, their will to win examined and re-examined. Once again, the soldiers tell their story, giving their own perceptive thoughts and profoundly moving insights while never forgetting the humour that helped them survive. And when the tables were turned in August, there began a campaign that would throw the enemy across the old ruptured battlefields of 1916 and 1917 and beyond, into open untouched countryside in the full bloom of summer. It took a hundred days of relentless fighting to reach Mons, the Belgian town where it had all started four years before. A century on, best-selling First World War historian Richard van Emden builds on the success of his previous books, The Somme and The Road to Passchendaele, with this next volume including an extraordinary collection of soldiers' photographs taken on their illegally-held cameras. Utilising an unparalleled collection of memoirs, diaries and letters written by the men who fought, Richard tells the riveting story of 1918, when decisive victory was grasped from near catastrophe.

1918: The Final Year of the Great War to Armistice

1918: The Final Year of the Great War to Armistice

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/09/2018

1918: The Fight for Victory. The Decisive Year in Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs is the next volume in the remarkable series of books from the best-selling First World War historian Richard van Emden. Revisiting the winning formula of diaries and memoirs, and above all original photographs taken on illegally-held cameras by the soldiers themselves, Richard tells the story of 1918, of both the ferocious spring offensive that so nearly brought victory for the Germans in the West, and the tenacious British rearguard fight that thwarted them. The book also tells the vivid story of the Allied breakthrough and the return to open warfare that was to bring victory in November 1918. His previous books, The Road to Passchendaele and The Somme have sold over 30,000 copies in hardback and softback, proving that the public appetite is undiminished for new, original stories illustrated with over 150 rarely or never-before-seen battlefield images. The author has an outstanding collection of over 5,000 privately-taken and overwhelmingly unpublished photographs, revealing the war as it was seen by the men involved, an existence that was sometimes exhilarating, too often terrifying, and occasionally even fun. This book will be published in September 2018, in time for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and the national commemorations that will mark the end of the four-year-long series of centennial events to mark the Great War.

The Last Fighting Tommy The Life of Harry Patch, Last Veteran of the Trenches, 1898-2009

The Last Fighting Tommy The Life of Harry Patch, Last Veteran of the Trenches, 1898-2009

Author: Richard van Emden, Harry Patch Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/02/2018

`An extraordinary biography by the very last witness of a devastating four years in British history' Daily Mail On 17 June 2009, Harry Patch celebrated his 111th birthday. At the time, he was the last living British Tommy who had fought in the trenches during the First World War. Now that direct link with the past has gone. From Patch's vivid memories of an Edwardian childhood, through the horrors of the battles of Ypres and Passchendaele to working on the home front in the Second World War and fame in later life as a veteran, The Last Fighting Tommy is the story of an ordinary man's extraordinary life. A hundred years after the end of the Great War, this powerful account of a life defined by those four devastating years remains as important and relevant as ever. This updated edition includes a new introduction, as well as previously unseen photographs.

The Road to Passchendaele The Heroic Year in Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

The Road to Passchendaele The Heroic Year in Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/10/2017

Passchendaele is the next volume in the highly-regarded series of books from the best-selling First World War historian Richard van Emden. Once again, using the winning formula of diaries and memoirs, and above all original photographs taken on illegally-held cameras by the soldiers themselves, Richard tells the story of 1917, of life both in and out of the line culminating in perhaps the most dreaded battle of them all, the Battle of Passchendaele. His pervious book, The Somme, has now sold nearly 20,000 copies in hardback and softback, proving that the public appetite is undiminished for new, original stories illustrated with over 150 rarely or never-before-seen battlefield images. The author has an outstanding collection of over 5,000 privately-taken and overwhelmingly unpublished photographs, revealing the war as it was seen by the men involved, an existence that was sometimes exhilarating, too often terrifying, and occasionally even fun. Richard van Emden interviewed 270 veterans of the Great War, has written extensively about the soldiers' lives, and has worked on many television documentaries, always concentrating on the human aspects of war, its challenge and its cost to the millions of men involved. This book will be published in June 2017, in time for the 100th anniversary of the epic Battle of Passchendaele which began on 31st July 1917 Richard van Emden s books sold over 650,000 books and have appeared in The Times bestseller chart on a number of occasions. He lives in West London and regularly appears on television, mostly recently as BBC1 s historian for the national commemorations of the Somme Battle. He has appeared on over forty television documentaries and has written nineteen books on the First World War.

The Road to Passchendaele The Heroic Year in Soldiers' own Words and Photographs

The Road to Passchendaele The Heroic Year in Soldiers' own Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/06/2017

Passchendaele is the next volume in the highly-regarded series of books from the best-selling First World War historian Richard van Emden. Once again, using the winning formula of diaries and memoirs, and above all original photographs taken on illegally-held cameras by the soldiers themselves, Richard tells the story of 1917, of life both in and out of the line culminating in perhaps the most dreaded battle of them all, the Battle of Passchendaele. His pervious book, The Somme, has now sold nearly 20,000 copies in hardback and softback, proving that the public appetite is undiminished for new, original stories illustrated with over 150 rarely or never-before-seen battlefield images. The author has an outstanding collection of over 5,000 privately-taken and overwhelmingly unpublished photographs, revealing the war as it was seen by the men involved, an existence that was sometimes exhilarating, too often terrifying, and occasionally even fun.Richard van Emden interviewed 270 veterans of the Great War, has written extensively about the soldiers' lives, and has worked on many television documentaries, always concentrating on the human aspects of war, its challenge and its cost to the millions of men involved. This book will be published in June 2017, in time for the 100th anniversary of the epic Battle of Passchendaele which began on 31st July 1917 Richard van Emden s books sold over 650,000 books and have appeared in The Times bestseller chart on a number of occasions. He lives in West London and regularly appears on television, mostly recently as BBC1 s historian for the national commemorations of the Somme Battle. He has appeared on over forty television documentaries and has written nineteen books on the First World War.

All Quiet on the Home Front

All Quiet on the Home Front

Author: Richard Van Emden, Steve Humphries Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2017

The truth about the sacrifice and suffering on the home front during World War I is rarely discussed. In this book, some of the oldest men and women in the country speak about experiences and events that have remained buried for 85 years. Their testimony shows the same candour and courage we have become accustomed to hearing from veterans of the western front. Those interviewed include a survivor of a Zeppelin raid on Hull in 1915, a Welsh munitions worker recruited as a girl, and a woman rescued from a bombed school after five days. There are also accounts of rural famine, bereavement and the effects on families back home, and even the story of a woman who planned to kill her family to save them further suffering.

Boy Soldiers of the Great War

Boy Soldiers of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Audio disc Release Date: 28/01/2017

Boy Soldiers of the Great War

Boy Soldiers of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 28/01/2017

Britain's Last Tommies

Britain's Last Tommies

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/03/2016

On the centenary of the Great War, there are now no longer any veterans alive of the six million men who served on the Western Front. Although this means that the Great War as a living history is to all intents and purposes over, the twenty years Richard van Emden spent interviewing and carefully recording the memories of over 270 veterans, makes this extraordinary collection of stories even more poignant. As well as stories told by the veterans themselves, Richard has also included his own memories of these remarkable men: the remarkable, the sad, the funny, the moving. The book also features an outstanding collection of photographs taken of the veterans as soldiers during the war, together with recent images of almost all of them, taken at home, back on the Western Front or at the final veterans' reunion. Britain's Last Tommies is the author's personal tribute to a unique list of veterans, all of whom individually held the poignant title of being the last Gallipoli veteran, the last Royal Flying Corps veteran, the last Distinguished Conduct Medal holder, the last cavalryman and the last Prisoner of War.

This Bloody Place

This Bloody Place

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/11/2015

Captain Albert Mure, a company commander in the 5th Battalion The Royal Scots, spent forty-three days in Gallipoli - far longer than many men who fought there would survive. In those few weeks, this brave, stoical officer was reduced from a fit, determined leader of men to a physical and mental wreck. In simple and honest language, Mure conveys the drama of the first landings, knowing that very shortly afterwards he and his men would be ashore and experiencing the same fate; his sympathy for those under his command is clear. Although suffering from shell shock, when the time came for him to leave the peninsular, he nevertheless felt like a deserter, remarking that, 'you can carry a no-longer-fit soldier's body out of the firing-line, but not his soul.' Originally published in 1919, Mure's story of his experiences at Gallipoli is full of a rawness and immediacy that I believe makes it worthy of a place amongst the many Great War memoirs.

Temporary Heroes

Temporary Heroes

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/07/2014

This is a short book based on the letters written between 1915 and 1916 by an officer serving with the 1/4th Gordon Highlanders. Second Lieutenant Down wrote regularly to his girlfriend/fiancee throughout his time in France, letters which were published in 1917 after he was wounded and discharged from the army. Cecil Down is a superb writer, but more than that he has a natural wit that translates easily to the page, making this one of the most enjoyable books I have read on the war. I have chosen this book because it is so different from anything else I have read. He captures life in France with great accuracy while remaining steadfastly upbeat and humorous. Nevertheless, there are moments when he is serious, and that makes his words poignant and attention-grabbing. Norman went to France in February 1915, serving continuously until July 1916. He died on 14 March 1984 aged 91

Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs

Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/06/2014

Conventional histories of the Great War have tended to focus on the terrible attritional battles of Ypres, of Arras and of the Somme. What they do not tell us is what life was like for the ordinary soldier, what mattered to him, and how he survived, both physically and mentally. Now for the first time, one of Britain's leading military historians, Richard van Emden tells the story of the Great War exclusively through the words and images of soldiers on the ground. In Tommy's War, he gathers some of the very best first-hand material written about the War, some of it published at the time and forgotten, some of it previously unpublished, but all of it wonderfully descriptive and immediate, and often wickedly funny. Tommy humour, frequently very dark, played a vital part in men's mental survival, particularly in times of great stress. Until now its critical role in victory has been overlooked. Richard van Emden restores the balance, giving weight to the soldiers' natural inclination to laugh during their darkest moments. Illustrating these eyewitness accounts with soldiers' own photographs taken on privately owned cameras, often tiny Vest Pocket Kodaks - the smart phones of their day - van Emden has created an entirely new and fresh history of the Great War, giving us a glimpse of 'Tommy Atkins' as he has never been seen before.

ebook of the month
Meeting the Enemy The Human Face of the Great War

Meeting the Enemy The Human Face of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/04/2014

A British soldier walked over to the German front line to deliver newspapers; British women married to Germans became 'enemy aliens' in their own country; a high-ranking British POW discussed his own troops' heroism with the Kaiser on the battlefield. Just three amazing stories of contact between the opposing sides in the Great War that eminent historian Richard van Emden has unearthed - incidents that show brutality, great humanity, and above all the bizarre nature of a conflict between two nations with long-standing ties of kinship and friendship. Meeting the Enemy reveals for the first time how contact was maintained on many levels throughout the War, and its stories, sometimes funny, often moving, give us a new perspective on the lives of ordinary men and women caught up in extraordinary events.

ebook of the month
Teenage Tommy: Memoirs of a Cavalryman in the First World War

Teenage Tommy: Memoirs of a Cavalryman in the First World War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/11/2013

Benjamin Clouting was just sixteen years old when he embarked with the British Expeditionary Force for France in August 1914. The youngest man in the 4th Dragoon Guards, he took part in the BEF's celebrated first action at Casteau on August 22nd, and, two days later, had his horse shot from under him during the famous cavalry charge of the 4th Dragoon Guards and the 9th Lancers at Audregnies. Ben served on the Western front during every major engagement of the war except Loos, was wounded twice, and in 1919 went with the Army of Occupation to Cologne. The son of a stable groom, Ben was brought up in the beautiful Sussex countryside near Lewes and from his earliest years was, as he often said himself, crazy to be a soldier . He worked briefly as a stable boy before joining up in 1913; his training was barely completed when war broke out. The Regiment, knowing Ben to be under age, tried to stop him embarking for France, but he flatly refused to be left behind. During the next four years, he served under officers immortalised in Great War history, including Major Tom Bridges, Captain Hornby, and Lieutenant-Colonel Adrien Carton de Wiart VC. Teenage Tommy is a detailed account of a trooper's life at the front, vividly recalling, for example, the privations suffered during the retreat from Mons. and later, the desperate fighting to hold back the German onslaught at 2nd Ypres. But this is more then just a memoir about trench warfare. Ben's lively sense of humour and healthy disrespect for petty restrictions make this an entertaining as well as a moving story of life at the front.

The Quick and the Dead Fallen Soldiers and Their Families in the Great War

The Quick and the Dead Fallen Soldiers and Their Families in the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/06/2012

At the end of the First World War more than 192,000 wives had lost their husbands, and nearly 400,000 children had lost their fathers. Few people remained unscathed. The Quick and the Dead pays tribute to the families who were left behind while their husbands, fathers and sons went off to fight, and the generations that followed. Through a unique collection of more than fifty interviews, private diaries and a remarkable collection of unpublished letters written by the soldiers to their families back home, The Quick and the Dead is a history of those who are commonly forgotten and neglected when the fallen are remembered on Armistice Day.

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https://richardvanemden.com/

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