Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top ten non-fiction books about Britain in World War I

Paul Dowswell has written over sixty books, including Ausländer, shortlisted for the Red House Children's Book Award and the Booktrust Teenage Prize. His latest book, Eleven Eleven, is about three combatants who are thrown together on the last day of the First World War.

For the Guardian, Dowswell named his top ten non-fiction books about Britain in the first world war, including:
The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell

This is one for older readers, but Paul Fussell's text is accessible and moving, despite his academic background. It's especially good at explaining the awful gulf between the expectations of the keen young recruits and the dreadful reality that awaited them. I found the passage on the use of "heroic" language especially thought-provoking: the dead are "the fallen", a horse is "a steed", the enemy is "the foe", private soldiers are "plucky", and officers are "gallant". An echo of such language still feeds into official war reporting and ought to make anyone who hears it wary.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Great War and Modern Memory is one of Wade Davis's six notable books about World War I.

--Marshal Zeringue