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Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs by Richard Van Emden
  

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

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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.

Synopsis

Tommy's War The Western Front in Soldiers' Words and Photographs by Richard Van Emden

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best first-hand material written about the War, some of it published at the time and forgotten, some of it previously unpublished, but all of it wonderfully descriptive and immediate, and often wickedly funny.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

Reviews

'Richard van Emden, who has become almost a posthumous advocate for the poor bloody infantry . draws on the vast quantity of written and photographic material available on the Great War . It was, after all, the first conflict to be photographed to any great extent by the participants, and Kodak avidly marketed battlefield-ready cameras the iPhones of the day. As ever, Emden makes the most of these original statements and image.'

-Independent

'Thanks to the VPK, the Great War was captured on film for families at home and illustrated in newspapers and magazines. From this photographic archive, and from the letters and diaries of men at the front, van Emden has compiled their own testimony, quite different from the official propaganda and historical material. The earthy humor and human horror of the casual images of men at war are still, 100 years later, intimate and immediate.'

-Saga

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.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th June 2014

Author

Richard Van Emden

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Author's Website

richardvanemden.com/
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Publisher

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Format

Hardback
384 pages

Categories

History
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First World War
European history
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Photographs: collections

ISBN

9781408844366

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