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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best first-hand material written about the War, some of it published at the time and forgotten, some of it previously unpublished, but all of it wonderfully descriptive and immediate, and often wickedly funny.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.

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.

Other books by Richard Van Emden

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: 12/06/2017

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.

The Somme The Epic Battle in the Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

The Somme The Epic Battle in the Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/06/2016

The offensive on the Somme took place between July and November 1916 and is perhaps the most iconic battle of the Great War. It was there that Kitchener s famous Pals Battalions were first sent into action en masse and it was a battlefield where many of the dreams and aspirations of a nation, hopeful of victory, were agonizingly dashed. Because of its legendary status, the Somme has been the subject of many books, and many more will come out next year. However, nothing has ever been published on the Battle in which the soldiers own photographs have been used to illustrate both the campaign s extraordinary comradeship and its carnage.

The Somme The Epic Battle in the Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

The Somme The Epic Battle in the Soldiers' Own Words and Photographs

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/03/2016

The offensive on the Somme took place between July and November 1916 and is perhaps the most iconic battle of the Great War. It was there that Kitchener's famous 'Pals' Battalions were first sent into action en masse and it was a battlefield where many of the dreams and aspirations of a nation, hopeful of victory, were agonizingly dashed. Because of its legendary status, the Somme has been the subject of many books, and many more will come out next year. However, nothing has ever been published on the Battle in which the soldiers' own photographs have been used to illustrate both the campaign's extraordinary comradeship and its carnage.

Britain's Last Tommies Final Memories from Soldiers of the 1914-18 War in Their Own Words

Britain's Last Tommies Final Memories from Soldiers of the 1914-18 War in Their Own Words

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 The Incomparables at Gallipoli

This Bloody Place The Incomparables at Gallipoli

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 Lieutenant Norman Cecil Down

Temporary Heroes Lieutenant Norman Cecil Down

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.

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.

Teenage Tommy

Teenage Tommy

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.

Last Man Standing Norman Collins: The Memoirs, Letters, and Photographs of a Teenage Officer

Last Man Standing Norman Collins: The Memoirs, Letters, and Photographs of a Teenage Officer

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/04/2012

It hardly seems credible today that a nineteenyear- old boy, just commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders, could lead a platoon of men into the carnage of the Battle of the Somme. Or that, as the machine gun bullets whistled past and shells exploded, he could maintain his own morale to lead a platoon, keeping its discipline and cohesion, in spite of desperate losses. Norman Collins, the author of this superb memoir, was this remarkable man.Using Norman's own words, Last Man Standing follows him from his childhood in Hartlepool to his subsequent service in France. The book also covers such shattering events as the German naval assault on Hartlepool in December 1914 when, as a seventeen-year-old, Norman was subjected to as big a bombardment as any occurring on the Western Front at that time. Norman's love for, and devotion to, the men under his command shine out in this book and his stories are gripping and deeply moving. They are illustrated by a rare collection of private photographs taken at or near the front by Norman himself, although the use of a camera was strictly proscribed by the Army. Most of the images have never been published before.

Tommy's Ark Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War

Tommy's Ark Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/06/2011

For soldiers in the Great War, going over the top was a comparatively rare event; much more frequently, they were bored and lonely and missing their families at home. Needing an outlet for their affection, many found it in the animal kingdom. Tommy's Ark looks at the war through the eyes of the soldiers who were there, and examines their relationship with a strange and unexpected range of animal life, from horses, dogs and cats to monkeys and birds - even in one case a golden eagle. Animals became mascots - some Welsh battalions had goats as mascots, some of the Scots had donkeys. And then there were the animals and insects that excited curiosity amongst men drawn into the army from the industrial heartlands of Britain, men who had little knowledge of, let alone daily contact with, wildlife. Civilians turned soldiers observed the natural world around them, from the smallest woodlouse to voles, mice and larger animals such as deer and rabbit. Richard van Emden explores his subject far more radically than previous attempts, revealing how, for example, a lemur was taken on combat missions in the air, a lion was allowed to pad down the front line trenches and how a monkey lost its leg during the fighting at Delville Wood on the Somme. Illustrated with more than sixty previously unseen or rarely published photographs, drawn mainly from the author's own extraordinary collection.

Famous 1914-1918

Famous 1914-1918

Author: Richard Van Emden, Vic Piuk Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/10/2009

Famous tells the Great War stories of twenty of Britain's most respected, best known and even notorious celebrities. They include politicians, actors, writers, an explorer, a sculptor and even a murderer. The generation that grew up in the late 19th Century enlisted enthusiastically in the defence of the country. Many would become household names such as Basil Rathbone, the definitive Sherlock Holmes, AA Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, and Arnold Ridley who found fame and public affection as the dour Scotsman Fraser, and the gentle and genial Godfrey, in Dad's Army. From politicians such as Harold Macmillan and Winston Churchill to writers includsing JB Priestley, and JRR Tolkein, from sculptors like Henry Moore, to composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams, their fame and influence continue even into the 21st Century. The authors have discovered the exact locations where these celebrities saw action. They tell the story of where CS Lewis was wounded and invalided home, and how Basil Rathbone won the Military Cross for a trench raid (while dressed as a tree). Each story is examined in detail with pictures taken of the very spot where the actions took place. There are maps of the area that will guide enterprising readers to walk in the footsteps of their heroes.

Prisoners of the Kaiser

Prisoners of the Kaiser

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 21/05/2009

Drawing on the memories of the last surviving prisoners of the 1914-1918 war, this book tells the dramatic story of life as a POW in Germany. Stories include the shock of capture on the Western Front, to the grind of daily life in imprisonment in Germany. Veterans recall work in salt mines, punishments, and escape attempts, as well as the torture of starvation and the relief at their eventual release. Vivid stories are told using over 200 photographs and illustrations, almost all never published before.

Soldier's War The Great War Through Veterans' Eyes

Soldier's War The Great War Through Veterans' Eyes

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/01/2009

The Great War ended more than ninety years ago yet still haunts and fascinates us today. In The Soldier's War, Richard van Emden traces a history of the fighting month by month and year by year, using original diaries, letters and as-yet-unseen photographs taken by the soldiers themselves. We follow the British Tommy through devastating battles and trench warfare from the outbreak of war in 1914 to the armistice four years later, guided by Richard van Emden's sure explanations. This is a history of the war as seen from the trenches that is shockingly intimate, sometimes heartbreaking, often wryly amusing, but always compelling.

Veterans The Last Survivors of the Great War

Veterans The Last Survivors of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/07/2005

Using the veterans' own words and photographs, the book brings to life a mixture of their excitement of embarkation for France, their unbound optimism and courage, the agony of the trenches, and numbing fear of going over the top. The fight for survival, the long ordeal of those who were wounded and the ever present grief caused by appalling loss and waste of life make for compelling reading. The veterans give us first hand accounts of stark honesty, as they describe in many cases more freely than ever before about experiences which have lived with them for over 80 years.

Veterans The Last Survivors of the Great War

Veterans The Last Survivors of the Great War

Author: Richard Van Emden, Steve Humphries Format: Hardback Release Date: 12/08/1998

Veterans is based upon the memories of World War 1 veterans and is highly illustrated with photographs, many of which have never been published before. It is characterised by a stark honesty about things that happened over 80 years ago.'

Author Info

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http://richardvanemden.com/

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