Some Great Reads on the Great War

Hello! Hope you’re having a good Sunday. Now as many of you may know, today marks the centenary for Armistice Day and in honour of the occasion, I thought it would be good to share some books and poems that bring the memory of the war to life. While I am not necessarily well versed in a lot of books on the subject, I do think it’s an important part of history and that honouring the dead is something we can all do with a simple moment of remembrance.

Poets

To start off, I just wanted to share a couple of poems that particularly move me:

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Fiction

The Duration

birdsong

Birdsong– I really love Faulks’ evocative writing style and Birdsong is one of his best works in that regard. Stunningly written, I love how this reflects on the war, managing to reflect on both before and after.

private peaceful

Private Peaceful– I have always loved this moving, beautifully written book. As much as it is a fantastic book for children, I still believe that it’s a profound indictment against the horrors of this particular war.

war horse

War Horse– I’m putting two Morpurgo books on here simply because they’re both such worthwhile reads. And, unique to this list, it’s also written from the perspective of a horse.

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Flambards– This is a really old, but romantic story, spanning the years before and after the war. Why I think it’s great for this list is because it deals with love and loss and the tremendous impact of the war on individuals.

shell house

Shell House– another romance, but with a fairly obvious twist. I do believe this is an interesting and worthwhile take on the war. While I don’t think all the parts of this book totally gel, the reason I’ve included it is because the comparison to modern day and history is rather different. I also think that the best part of this book are the flashbacks and that these parts particularly capture the tragedy of the war.

The Aftermath

blood red snow white

Blood Red, Snow White– while not strictly speaking about the trenches or the war directly, this colourful read follows Arthur Ransome’s journey as a spy as Russia fell to communism. It captures a completely different side to this period in history, focusing on fallout in Russia from WW1 and the ripple effect of that. It’s also written in a fairytale-esque voice, which made it a captivating read from start to finish.

the waste land

The Waste Land– while not strictly speaking about World War I, I think this book is permeated with the shadow of the war. Its vivid descriptions and hidden depths make it a thoroughly worthwhile read.

secret countess

The Secret Countess– I actually mentioned this favourite earlier today when I quoted its opening. Not only does this have the interesting perspective of Russian exiles, one amazing thing about this book was how it deals with the aftermath of the Great War and exists very much in its shadow.

So there you go. What is your favourite World War I poem or book? Let me know in the comments!