Military History with Pete and Gary

Where do you start if you want to learn about World War One on the Western Front?

Everybody must start somewhere, and a tried and tested introduction are the Lyn Macdonald books, perhaps typified by They Called It Passchendaele and The Somme. Lyn was all about the emotions triggered by the war; she loved meeting and interviewing veterans, and as the last of them passed away she lost much of her focus. Her books are sometimes criticised by academics, but that’s not what they are about – and after all, the veterans loved her.

Another popular historian of the conflict is Richard van Emden and we would recommend his The Quick and the Dead: Fallen Soldiers and Their Families in the Great War. At times this can almost reduce you to tears and it is an aspect of war we should never forget. One justly famous book delving inside the life and mind of the ordinary soldier is Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front, 1914-1918 by Richard Holmes. While if you want to understand the inner the workings of the British Army, then look no farther than Call to Arms: The British Army 1914-18 by Charles Messenger.

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