Intimate Voices from the First World War

ISBN 13: 9780060582593

Intimate Voices from the First World War

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9780060582593: Intimate Voices from the First World War

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 Ferdinand’s 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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About the Author:

Svetlana Palmer was born in Moscow in 1969. She studied at Moscow State University as well as in London and Berlin. She moved to Britain in 1990 and has worked on critically acclaimed documentaries including the BAFTA-nominated CNN/BBC Cold War series and ITV's award-winning The Second World War in Colour. Svetlana also co-produces arts and music documentaries with her filmmaker husband. They live in north London with their two sons.



Sarah Wallis was born in America in 1967 and moved to Britain as a child. She studied Russian and German and used these languages while working as an assistant producer on many historical documentaries including the BBC series People’s Century, for which the episode "Master Race" won an Emmy Award, and the RTS award-winning Homecoming, a film following the return to Russia of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Now a producer, she lives in north London with her partner and their two children.

From Publishers Weekly:

In June 1918, while holding back a German advance on the French town of Marne, American officer John Clark wrote a letter to his sweetheart in which he compared his wartime experience to "great cinema, constantly changing, constantly moving." But cinema couldn't do justice to all the drama contained in the pages of this extraordinary collection of diary entries and letters written by combatants in World War I. An outgrowth of the acclaimed British television documentary, The First World War, this book features the writings of individuals from 13 different nations. The first entry, a letter from incarcerated 16-year-old Vaso Cubrilovic, one of the collaborators in the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Serbia, voices a youthful and nave militancy that exposes the arbitrary nature of the act that set off the beginning of the war. By putting his words first, the authors provide an interesting context for the subsequent fear, despair and confusion expressed by the young warriors who were sent to the trenches. The distinct voices include those of an Englishman who is ambivalent about the cause yet glad to be making use of himself, an unflinchingly patriotic Frenchman and a German who seems to have had wartime patriotism thrust upon him. The war's purpose seems to dissolve as each individual's story unfolds, and as the accounts of men "crying with exhaustion and rage" or dreaming of their families back home begin to mount up. In this carefully researched and assembled book, the question of war and its meaning is distilled into the vision of a single human being who records history with his eyes, ears and blood. Photos throughout, six maps.
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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