World War One books to add to your Christmas list!

With just six weeks to go to Christmas, here’s our pick of World War One titles to add to your own ‘wishlist’ or gift to the military history enthusiast in your life. With prices starting from just £22.50 there’s something for everyone!


‘We Are the Dead. Poems and Paintings from The Great War 1914 – 18’ £22.50

Titled after John McCrae’s famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ We Are The Dead is a stylish and evocative anthology of poems about the experience of The Great War 1914-18 – illustrated throughout with powerful and moving paintings from the period. Alongside familiar ‘greats’ We Are The Dead includes a number of lesser-known poems – carefully chosen because of their exceptional quality or to illustrate an important aspect of   The Great War experience.

Compiler David Roberts’ outstanding choice of contemporary paintings includes those by the official British, Canadian and Australian artists – as well as other artists who witnessed the conflict. Many have not been seen since the war ended. The overall effect is impressive and reminds us of a war beyond black-and-white photographs and familiar lines of poetry.

Duncan says: “Recently featured in The Mail on Sunday’s ‘YOU!’ magazine, this is a fresh and innovative look at the poetry The Great War generated. The approach has been to move beyond the British experience. Owen, Graves and Sassoon are well-represented, but there are also poems by Irish, Australian, Canadian, German and French poets – some in translation for the first time.”

‘Aisne 1914. The Dawn of Trench Warfare’ by P. Kendall £25.00

Boldly charting this pivotal yet little-explored battle this must-read work shows how the British Expeditionary Force – fighting blindly and hopelessly exposed on the Aisne – lost 12,000 men to German machine-gun fire and artillery. The ‘Old Contemptibles’ had experienced at first-hand the incompetence of their ‘Victorian’ commanders who sent them to fight without grenades and devoid of any cover. Left with little choice but to ‘dig in’, the survivors began a trench line that would stretch from the Swiss frontier to the North Sea – marking the dawn of trench warfare and a stalemate which would last for the next four years.

Duncan says: “At last, a thorough book on a much-neglected battle fought during the Autumn of 1914 – the Aisne. This is a well-constructed and detailed account.”

 ‘The German Army On The Western Front 1915’ by J. Sheldon £25.00

With the Central Powers holding the initiative throughout, 1915 was the year that largely determined the way the remainder of the war would be fought. Constantly on the offensive in the vast open spaces of the Eastern Front, the German Army stood on the strategic defensive in the West. There – with minimal ground-holding forces and thanks to skilful deployment of limited reserves of men and guns – it repulsed with bloody losses every attempt by the Western Allies to drive it from occupied France and Belgium.

Superbly researched and written, Jack Sheldon’s latest work provides the clearest and most comprehensive German perspective yet on this period of The Great War. Covering such well-known actions as Neuve Chapelle, Ypres where gas was used on a large scale for the first time; Aubers Ridge and Loos – as well as the appalling clashes in Champagne and the Argonne Forest – the latest in the author’s acclaimed series will be welcomed as essential reading by all with a close interest in the First World War.

Duncan says: “Jack Sheldon has produced a number of outstanding titles on the German experience of World War One and this latest one is no exception – particularly as 1915 is regularly glossed over. Highly recommended!”

‘War Surgery 1914 – 1918’ by Thomas Scotland and Steve Hayes (Eds) £31.46

The multiple, severe and contaminated wounds from high-explosive shellfire, bomb and mortar blasts and from rifle and machine-gun bullets forced the surgeons of The Great War to blaze a trail that would lay the foundations for modern war surgery as practiced today in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Here Scotland and Hayes chart in thorough yet accessible detail how medical services responded to deal with the casualties – discussing the evacuation pathway and explaining how facilities – particularly casualty-clearing stations – evolved to cope with major, multiple wounds to help save lives.

Delve into chapters covering everything from advances made in anaesthesia, resuscitation and blood transfusion to the pathology and microbiology of wounding as well as diagnostic radiology.

There are also chapters dealing with the development of orthopaedic surgery (both on The Western Front and in the United Kingdom); the treatment of abdominal wounds; chest wounds; wounds of the skull and brain and the development of plastic and reconstructive surgery for those with terribly mutilating facial wounds.

War Surgery 1914-18 contributes greatly to our understanding of the surgery of warfare.

Duncan says: “A contender for ‘Great War Book of the Year 2012’ according to ‘Stand To!’ – The Journal of The Western Front Association – this is a thorough yet accessible look at a topic vital to understanding the full experience of the war and its impact beyond the immediate battlefield.”

‘The Other Side Of The Wire Volume 2. The Battle Of The Somme. With The German XIV Reserve Corps, 1 July 1916’ by Ralph J. Whitehead £40.50

Volume 1 of The Other Side of the Wire told the story of the German XIV Reserve Corps from the initial invasion of the Somme in Northern France in 1914 to the final hours before the momentous battle of July 1, 1916. Volume 2 covers the epic Battle of The Somme and takes the reader through the story of July 1, 1916 as seen from the German defenders. Each part of the great battle – from Gommecourt in the north to Curlu on the bank of the River Somme – is presented from the German perspective of the men who defended their sectors against the British and French offensive.

By providing first-hand accounts; regimental histories; hundreds of illustrations; numerous maps and casualty lists a true portrayal of the men who fought on July 1 on ‘the other side of the wire’ can finally be presented.

This superb Great War title is being published in a strictly limited edition hardback run of 750 copies – each copy individually numbered and signed by the author.

Duncan says: “Long-awaited and due out just before Christmas, this is Ralph Whitehead’s second volume in his series looking at the experiences of the German XIV Reserve Corps. What makes it special is that the Corps bore the brunt of the British attack on The Somme on July 1, 1916. Here we can read what it was like to face that assault through the words of the soldiers themselves.”

Words by Michelle Corbett

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