978-0-06-058259-3 / 9780060582593

Intimate Voices from the First World War


Publisher:William Morrow



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About the book:

How do you tell the history of a war in which more than nine million combatants and nearly seven million civilians across the world died by bullet, fire, hunger and disease? How do you describe the experience of a war that ignited two revolutions, brought down four monarchies, scarred a generation and culminated in major political and territorial changes that cast shadows to this day?

Departing from traditional histories, Intimate Voices from the First World War tells the story of the First World War entirely through the diaries and letters of its combatants, eyewitnesses and victims. Powerful individual stories are interwoven to form an extraordinary narrative that follows the chronology of the war, in words written on the battlefield and on leave, under occupation and under siege. Soldiers and civilians record with passion, fear and humor their experiences and intimate thoughts, never intended for publication.

The book starts with the testimony of a Serbian teenager, one of Archduke Franz Ferdinands assassins. Each chapter focuses on one important episode of the war told from opposite sides of the conflict. A German and a British soldier are dug into the parallel lines of trenches on the Somme. An Australian and a Turk describe brutal bayonet charges on the beaches at Gallipoli. A Polish woman endures a gruesome siege and an initially patriotic German schoolgirl, after being exposed to the loss and pain of war, gradually escapes into a world of adolescent love.

The diaries and letters featured were uncovered during extensive research across twenty-eight countries for the groundbreaking television series The First World War, based on the work of Professor Hew Strachan, whose introduction starts this book. Gripping, immediate and moving, Intimate Voices from the First World War represents a major addition to First World War literature.

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