978-0-330-37672-3 / 9780330376723

The Imperial War Museum Book of 1918: Year of Victory (Pan Grand Strategy Series)


Publisher:Pan Macmillan



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About the book:

The war was the only real and permanent thing, thriving and increasing in a world going to ruin. These are the telling words of former officer Desmond Allhusen, looking back on his wartime experience. 1918 was the year of victory for the Allied forces, a welcome respite from four bloody years of toil in trenches with, seemingly, no end in sight. As Malcolm Brown points out, 1916, the year of the Somme, and 1917, the year of Passchendaele, are the years more typically focused on when one talks about the Great War, but 1918 was, for the British at least, the bloodiest of them all--more casualties were sustained in this year than in any other. Amazingly, the casualty rate was higher in this single year than it was for the entire Second World War.

In this remarkable book, Brown constructs a highly readable narrative of this dreadful yet ultimately joyous year around the writings of those who served on the front line. From the year's bleak beginning in appalling weather conditions, when few held out the prospect of celebrating the next Hogmany in peacetime, up to its happy conclusion, the chapters slip by in an easy narrative style, providing compelling insights into people's attitudes to the war and what sustained them through it. Brown is clearly an accomplished historian, and there is much here for those interested in a broader picture, but what really illuminates this book are the contributions from the soldiers on the ground, many of which are beautifully written. His extensive use of the Imperial War Museum's collection of diaries, memoirs and letters, and his skill in setting them together within a wider framework have allowed him to create a uniquely compelling account of this momentous year in history. --Alisdair Bowles

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