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The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War

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The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this masterly, highly original narrative history, Peter Englund takes a revelatory new approach to the history of World War I, magnifying its least examined, most stirring component: the experiences of the average man and woman—not only the tragedy and horror but also the absurdity and even, at times, the beauty.

The twenty people from whose journals and letters Englund draws are from Belgium, Denmark, and France; Great Britain, Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Italy, Australia, and New Zealand; Russia, Venezuela, and the United States. There is a young man in the British army infantry who had been considering emigrating until the war offered him its “grand promise of change” and a middle-aged French civil servant, a socialist and writer whose “faith simply crumbled” at the outbreak of war. There is a twelve-year-old German girl thrilled with the news of the army’s victories because it means that she and her classmates are allowed to shout and scream at school. There is an American woman married to a Polish aristocrat, living a life of quiet luxury when the war begins but who will be moved, ultimately, to declare: Looking Death in the eyes, one loses the fear of Him. From field surgeon to nurse to fighter pilot, some are on the Western Front, others in the Balkans, East Africa, Mesopotamia. Two will die, one will never hear a shot fired; some will become prisoners of war, others will be celebrated as heroes. But despite their various war-time occupations and fates, genders and nationalities, they will be united by their involvement—witting or otherwise—in The Great, and terrible, War.

A brilliant mosaic of perspectives that moves between the home front and the front lines, The Beauty and the Sorrow reconstructs the feelings, impressions, experiences, and shifting spirits of these twenty particular people, allowing them to speak not only for themselves but also for all those who were in some way shaped by the war, but whose voices have been forgotten, rejected, or simply remained unheard.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Peter Englund is a Swedish historian, who has received numerous prizes in his own country and whose works have been translated into fifteen languages. He has also been working as a war correspondent in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Englund is a member of the Swedish Academy (which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature), and in 2008 was appointed its new permanent secretary, an office he still holds.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307701381
Subtitle:
An Intimate History of the First World War
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Author:
Englund, Peter
Publication Date:
20111108
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
560

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » World War I

The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War
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Product details 560 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9780307701381 Reviews:
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