The best books on the British Army in World War I

Why am I passionate about this?

Spencer Jones is an award-winning historian who has written several critically acclaimed books about the British Army in the First World War. He teaches history at the University of Wolverhampton, serves as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Artillery, and is the President of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.


I wrote...

Courage Without Glory: The British Army on the Western Front 1915

By Spencer Jones,

Book cover of Courage Without Glory: The British Army on the Western Front 1915

What is my book about?

The year 1915 was one of unprecedented challenges for the British Army. Short of manpower, firepower, and experience, the army needed time to adapt before it could hope to overcome the formidable German defenses of the Western Front. Yet the insistent demands of coalition warfare required immediate and repeated action. The result was a year of disappointments, setbacks, and costly fighting.

This book offers an important reassessment of a forgotten year of the war, and illustrates the tremendous difficulties faced by the British Army as it endured a bloody learning curve in difficult conditions. This book will be of great interest to anyone who studies the First World War, and of particular value to those who seek a greater understanding of the British Army of the era.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front

Spencer Jones Why did I love this book?

What was war like for the average British soldier – ‘Tommy’ - taken from civilian life and sent into the inferno of battle? This magisterial study is the best book about British soldiers and their wartime experiences. It explores reasons for enlistment, training, tactics, life in the trenches, and experience of battle. Although vast in scope, it never loses sight of the human side of war. This book presents presents a nuanced, fascinating, and touching study of the common soldier.

By Richard Holmes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tommy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first history of World War I to place centre-stage the British soldier who fought in the trenches, this superb and important book tells the story of an epic and terrible war through the letters, diaries and memories of those who fought it.

Of the six million men who served in the British army, nearly one million lost their lives and over two million were wounded. This is the story of these men - epitomised by the character of Sgt Tommy Atkins - and the women they left behind.

Using previously unseen letters, diaries, memoirs and poetry from the years…


Book cover of Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916

Spencer Jones Why did I love this book?

At first glance, this volume may seem out of place in a list of books about the British Army. However, Christopher Duffy’s work is one of the most interesting studies of the British Army on the Somme to have emerged in recent years. By using German sources, particularly interrogation reports from captured British, Canadian and Australian soldiers, he paints a unique picture of the British Army as viewed through the eyes of its chief opponent. The result is an unusual, illuminating, and delightfully readable study.

By Christopher Duffy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through German Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The key battle of the First World War from the German point of view

The Battle of the Somme has an enduring legacy, the image established by Alan Clark of 'lions led by donkeys': brave British soldiers sent to their deaths by incompetent generals. However, from the German point of view the battle was a disaster. Their own casualties were horrendous. The Germans did not hold the (modern) view that the British Army was useless. As Christopher Duffy reveals, they had great respect for the British forces and German reports shed a fascinating light on the volunteer army recruited by…


Book cover of Survivors of a Kind: Memoirs of the Western Front

Spencer Jones Why did I love this book?

This is the kind of book that I wish I had written. In a series of individual essays, Brian Bond considers a variety of memoirs written by British participants of the Great War, detailing the author’s life and assessing the themes of their work. Some of the memoirs are familiar, such as Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves, whereas others are long forgotten. The result is a fascinating book that reveals the sheer diversity of wartime experience and how the authors struggled to cope with it.

By Brian Bond,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Survivors of a Kind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This original book shows that many memoirs of the Western Front are not only literary masterpieces but are also of great value to historians. Brian Bond examines a range of works in this neglected genre which demonstrate the remarkable variety of combat experiences and postwar reflections, ranging from poets like Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden striving to overcome traumas; to warriors or ‘Fire Eaters’ like Lord Reith and Alf Pollard who enjoyed the war; and two exceptionally brave Old Etonians, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan whose military distinction proved to be an asset in their political careers. He…


Book cover of Morale: A Study of Men and Courage

Spencer Jones Why did I love this book?

What enabled soldiers to maintain their morale in the inferno of the Western Front? This unique book explores the question by studying the soldiers of the elite 2nd Scottish Rifles at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915. It presents a fascinating micro-history of how a British battalion functioned in peace and in war. What type of men served in an elite unit? Where had they come from? What rules did they follow? Where did their loyalties lie? How did they maintain their spirit in the face of dreadful conditions and severe casualties? This book answers these questions and many more.

By John Christopher Malcolm Baynes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Morale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mark from price in front inner cover. Front cover is bent at top right corner, but is in overall acceptable shape.


Book cover of Bloody Victory: The Sacrifice on the Somme and the Making of the Twentieth Century

Spencer Jones Why did I love this book?

The Battle of the Somme 1916 was the longest and bloodiest battle ever fought by the British Army. In popular imagination, the battle tends to focus on its first day – 1st July 1916 – when British forces suffered almost 60,000 casualties. Yet the battle was much more than this single, dreadful day and the fighting would rage for another 140 days. What happened? This meticulously researched book tells the full story of the Somme campaign and shows how it was planned and fought. It is immense in scope, taking the reader from the corridors of high politics to the smoldering shell holes of no-man’s land. Ultimately, it reaches provocative conclusions that may change your thinking about the battle.

By William Philpott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bloody Victory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1 July 1916: the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The hot, hellish day in the fields of northern France that has dominated our perception of the First World War for just shy of a century. The shameful waste; the pointlessness of young lives lost for the sake of a few yards; the barbaric attitudes of the British leaders; the horror and ignominy of failure. All have occupied our thoughts for generations. Yet are we right to view the Somme in this way?

Drawing on a vast number of sources such as letters, diaries and numerous archives, Bloody…


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By Sammy Stein,

Book cover of The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

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What is this book about?

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Interested in World War 1, the Battle of the Somme, and the British Army?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 1, the Battle of the Somme, and the British Army.

World War 1 Explore 900 books about World War 1
The Battle Of The Somme Explore 7 books about the Battle of the Somme
The British Army Explore 30 books about the British Army