The Most Readable Books On World War 1

By Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Books I Picked & Why

Mud, Blood and Poppycock: Britain and the Great War

By Gordon Corrigan

Mud, Blood and Poppycock: Britain and the Great War

Why this book?

The shout line on the jacket is “This will overturn everything you thought you knew about…The First World War”, and it certainly delivers. No other conflict has been so misrepresented, and for most people, their idea of it comes straight from Blackadder Goes Forth. But men did not spend months at a time in the trenches; a whole generation did not die; the generals were not cowardly, incompetent fools.

When I first began to write about WW1 for my Morland Dynasty series, I knew as little as anyone, and what I thought I knew was all wrong! By the time I was researching for War At Home, I knew a lot more, but Corrigan opens my eyes to many more subjects. Informative, well-researched, but above all wonderfully readable, this book should be required reading for anyone who is interested in what really happened, not just the made-for-tv version.


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All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War

By Richard Van Emden, Steve Humphries

All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War

Why this book?

Wonderfully readable, and full of first-hand accounts via interview and letter, this book tells you what it was really like for the people of Britain during WW1 – the rationing, the blackout, the Blitz, the shortages; how the women took over the men’s jobs, from driving railway engines to ploughing the fields; the emotional impact of dealing with the flood of wounded and the deaths; and the hardship and increasing mental problems as the war seemed never to be going to end.


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1914 Days Of Hope

By Lyn MacDonald

1914 Days Of Hope

Why this book?

Lyn Macdonald is my go-to historian for WW1, and I only pick out this volume – she has written one for each year of the war – because if you want a thorough, detailed account of the war you will want to start at the beginning. She is a fine writer, and very readable, and her books are full of extracts from letters and diaries of the men at the front, and their families back home, which give you the genuine, authentic flavour of how people thought and spoke at the time, and allows you to feel you were really there.


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Great War Fashion: Tales from the History Wardrobe

By Lucy Adlington, L. J. Adlington

Great War Fashion: Tales from the History Wardrobe

Why this book?

On a lighter note, this book is a wonderful journey through what everyone wore, not just the fashions but the uniforms, the make-do-and-mend, maternity wear, underclothes, knitting for the soldiers, wartime washing-day, trousers for women (shock! horror!), a kit for lady footballers and lady drivers, and how the war changed women’s clothing along with their lives. Full of illustrations, delicious cartoons, and WW1 advertisements, this book is quite simply a wonderful read, as well as wonderfully informative.


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Zeppelin Nights: London in the First World War

By Jerry White

Zeppelin Nights: London in the First World War

Why this book?

Having grown up in London in the aftermath of WW2, and playing on its bomb sites, I was well aware of the WW2 Blitz. But like most people, I had no idea that London was heavily bombed during the first war as well. This book is detailed and fascinating, and as well as the raids themselves, it goes into a lot of related topics, such as the black-out, prostitution, munitions factories, pub closing hours and the drive for teetotalism, refugees, women’s work, and the aftermath. Well-written and illustrated with photographs, it’s an excellent look at how London fared through the darkest days of its history.


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