Max Egremont

The View Over the Parapet

Tommy: The British Soldier on The Western Front 1914-1918

By

HarperCollins 717pp £20 order from our bookshop

 

THE FIRST WORLD War was Britain’s September 11. Nothing comparable had happened to the British before and it changed the way they saw themselves and their security. For the first time since Dutch ships had sailed up the Medway in the seventeenth century, the homeland came under direct attack when Scarborough was shelled and London bombed. Almost every family suffered the death or wounding of at least one of its members. In south-eastern England, the sound of artillery echoed across the Channel as a distant reminder of the war’s most bloody aspect: the battles on the Western Front, its long, snaking line familiar now from several dozen television documentaries, each one accompanied by a suitably sepulchral commentary.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,