Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
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Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  3,870 ratings  ·  171 reviews
It was one of history's most powerful -- yet forgotten -- Christmas stories. It took place in the improbable setting of the mud, cold rain and senseless killing of the trenches of World War I. It happened in spite of orders to the contrary by superiors; it happened in spite of language barriers. And it still stands as the only time in history that peace spontaneously arose...more
Hardcover, 206 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Free Press (first published 1995)
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Esteban del Mal
5 stars because even if it isn't historically accurate, I want it to be.
Caroline
The Christmas truce of WWI has gained fame through movies and historical fiction but how does one separate truth from fiction? This is a wonderful work based on research of journals and letters written by the soldiers and officers who were there when it happened.

Only a few months into the First World War, troops from Scotland, India, Germany, France, Prussia, England and Belgium on the rain soaked battlefields of Flanders were already sick of the soggy, cold and muddy conditions of war. They we...more
Cory Mortell
Cory Mortell 2/4/11
Silent Night: The Story of the World
War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub

The Christmas Truce that occurred during World War I in 1914 is one of the most memorable and amazing events in the history of war. Stanley Weintraub’s Silent Night depicts this event in detail from his own knowledge, diaries, journal entries and other records from actual soldiers in the war. I enjoyed reading this book a lot, and it also helped me get a better grasp on the history of the World War...more
Meara Breuker
I cannot understand why this book has such high ratings. It's an interesting topic that could have made for a compelling book. The book could have benefited greatly from a discussion of geography, as not all of us intimately know the places described in the book. In addition, a discussion of the different groups of soldiers (Saxons, Westphalians, Prussians, etc.) and a brief history on their backgrounds and conflicts and where they hail from would have been helpful. A map of the front and a list...more
Jeffrey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nigeyb
This is an enjoyable and well written account of the 1914 truce that happened during World War 1 on the Western Front in the improbable setting of the trenches. Time and again Stanley Weintraub uncovers examples of how, despite orders from senior officers, the troops in the trenches came together to sing carols, exchange gifts, eat and drink together, and even play football. In most of these examples the troops discovered how alike they were and how much they shared in common.

I am not sure this...more
Lynai
A thriller that wasn't so thrilling, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.
I think teens/young/adults may enjoy this more, but not the "hardcore" thriller/mystery readers. A short and easy read, a comfortable companion for an hour flight or bus ride.
Maryanne Dipasquale
IT will reaffirm your faith in humanity while making you wish you could really, really, really change the world.
Nicole
Before I read this I had no idea this happens. It's beautiful sad and hopeful at the same time. Talk about irony.
Val
The truce of Christmas 1914 was remarkable not because it was unique, there were many short isolated truces to collect wounded and bury the dead and quite a lot of fraternisation, but because it was so widespread. The Western Front stretched for about 450 miles and this truce occurred along most of it, as well as some similar initiatives along the Eastern and Southern Fronts. There were German truce initiatives every Christmas of the war, but the Allies were firmly ordered not to respond after t...more
Stelly
An easy read about one of my favorite time periods to study and one of my favorite little known moments in that time period. It was an interesting read and gave some great personal accounts from soldiers who were there, even if it was rather repetitive. There was a lot of focus on the Germans and the Brits (fair enough) but I would've liked more from the French, the Prussians, and the Indians who were all mentioned and then glossed over (although I did get the impression the author is not a fan...more
kylie
This bok had lots of supence in it. i really like it because I can relate to this little girl who is worried about how she is going to find out who took her mom. this i right around chrismaisss time and they are all sharing stories and they get up to go to the bathroom and they come back without there mom and they dont know what to do. so they start to look for her but stil they can not find her and so they call the cops but the cops didnt answer it was somone eles. the little girl and there bro...more
Ashlee Ford
This was a really easy read. I started this book this morning, read for about an hour and put it down until this evening and just finished it. Total reading time- about 2 and 1/2 hours. Not bad. I've only read one other book by her called "Two Little Girls in Blue" Although that book seemed much bigger because I read it in Large Print. This story was about a little boy who's father is ill, and he is holding onto a St. Christopher's Medal to bring him on Christmas eve. Through a series of events...more
Jessica
Christmas 2011's non-fiction.

So the kilted Cameronians (aka Scottish rifles) are featured in this book. I don't know whether to be proud or bothered by the fact that my (literal) fore-bearers were so okay with being integrated into British military lexicon that units were named for them. It rankles my inner revolutionary.

Not surprisingly, a dark-haired Austrian corporal did not approve of, nor participate in, the Christmas Truce. He was, of course, Adolf Hitler.

All in all, this was a fantastic...more
Karen
This book reminds me of the question "What if they called a war and nobody showed up?" The opposing factions in the trenches at Flanders, WWI, Christmas Eve 1914, ceased fighting and "fraternized with the enemy" by sharing gifts, singing carols, playing soccer and chasing rabbits together. Once the generals and high command found what was happening, they had to actually remove troops and replace them to get the war started again, since these new-found friends no longer had the inclination to kil...more
John Desaulniers, Jr.
Very good anecdotal tale of WWI, with a melancholy message of what many wished could have been.

Intriguing to me was Weintraub's portrayal of the Germans as being most religious. True, they were the belligerent ones in the start of the war, yet it was they who insisted on keeping Christmas and singing Christian carols (often answered back by the Brits and Irish with bar songs).

The stories Weintraub weaves together are good. His recognition that there was no way for the average soldier to so turn...more
David
The author did an excellent job of gathering information about these two 1914 days and the exceptional truce on the Flanders battle field. With a very useful site map, the research was organized into a true story what, during ten years of effort, he found in diaries, newspapers, magazine,and other published sources. Stories from Germans, French,Belgians and British are all given, many in quotation, all in English.

There are curious events recounted, one chapter on "football" (soccer) played, a f...more
Rachel
This was an excellent book on an amazing part of the first World War! My mother had picked this up at Goodwill, if you believe it, for only $0.25 cents! With numerous accounts from soldiers who were there as well as the insights from the author I found this to be a unique and wondrous tale.

Four months after the start of WWI in the wet and muddy December trenches of France, soldiers on both sides laid down their rifles in seasonal good will to trade souvenirs, share food and drink, and even play...more
Connie N.
This is a non-fiction account of a phenomenon which seems to have happened spontaneously in many different sections of the front during World War I, specifically 1914. In most cases, the relationships were initiated by German troops who contacted the Allied troops on the other side and suggested a Christmas truce. A large number of soldiers, tired of the cold and the rain and the deaths, were happy to agree. It started as a truce to allow both sides to gather their dead from No Man's Land (the r...more
Marianne
I've seen so many things on the Christmas Truce that I really wanted to read something relating to it. I perhaps went into this with overly high expectations due to how much I love the subject and it never quite hit the heights I was hoping for. Obviously as a historic account there's not much that can be done but I never found myself particularly engaged at times. I don't know if having a section with Brits another with the Germans and another for the French would have worked better or if it wa...more
Graceann
Dec 16, 2012 Graceann rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWI Buffs
Shelves: history
The Christmas Truce of 1914 is legendary. Films, plays, songs, poems, paintings and just about any other art from you can think of celebrate this storied moment when enemies stepped across No Man's Land to exchange small gifts and play a little football. What Stanley Weintraub tells us, however, is that it was a bit more complicated than you might otherwise believe.

The Truce was by no means universal - men were killed throughout the observance, either through misunderstandings or a denial of the...more
El
I hate to be a big Scrooge on Christmas Day and all, but I had seriously lukewarm feelings for this book. The Great War Christmas Truce is a topic that is rarely mentioned in much detail, and after reading Stanley Weintraub's historical account I can see why - there really is not much to be said for it. Sure, there's a great story in there, and it is touching and cockle-warming, but only so much can be said before it becomes a matter of repetition. Unfortunately Weintraub fell into this broken-r...more
Matt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa
During World War I, German, French, British and Belgian soldiers found solace in the “enemy” for a brief period. On Christmas Eve in 1914 the men were dug into miserable trenches, up to their ankles in mud and filth. Despite warnings from their superiors and even at the risk of losing their own lives, the soldiers declared a momentary truce and enjoyed the holiday.

They crossed into no man’s land and swapped cigarettes and food. They ever played soccer and buried their dead. This occurred all al...more
brook
Very interesting...but very repetitive. It's the same short story, told about 40 or 50 times. Here:

"It started with singing, Christmas trees. The Germans were friendlier than the Brits, and were more celebratory at Christmas, Britain being a slightly more secular nation. Eventually, through yelled communication, a representative from each side came out and discussed terms. This was something that both sides actively discouraged, because they thought it would hurt morale. Lower officers disregard...more
Charles
I struggled mightily to finish this one. And it's too dang bad because the story behind the book is so immediately attractive. Christmas Eve, 1914, all along the trenches of Belgium and France, an impromptu truce broke out. I was looking forward to a thorough accounting of what would cause not just a soldier, but whole divisions to just stop shooting. How did it start? How did it stop? What are the wider implications for peace in our world?

The book spends most of its pages skipping around from p...more
Maria
Weintraub tells the remarkable tell of the spontanious Christmas Truce of 1914. Despite orders from their generals, men up and down the front lines organized local individuals truces with the companies across the No Man's land. They met together to bury the dead, trade cigerates, and in some instances to play games of soccer.

Why I picked this up: Richard recommended this book as a cool piece of history that has been lost and as a quick Christmas read.

Why I finished it: I really like the story bu...more
Kathryn
Weintraub''s book is based on a series of personal testimonies, fictionalized accounts written post-war, and letters home that told of the truce, the latter being the main reason word got out about these soldiers crossing no-man's-land to play soccer, exchange Christmas treats, and create very short-term friendships before their superiors would inevitably force them to start shooting at each other again. Often they didn't have to because the normal rotations would push them back to the supportiv...more
marcus miller
Enjoyed the subject and the idea of soldiers refusing to fight as they recognize each others humanity. But, the way Weintraub tells the story, at times it became repetitive. Still I would recommend this to others.
I'm not a writer, but I have wondered how this could have been structured differently. Perhaps this story could better be told as historical fiction where a couple of strong composite characters could be created. In the midst of this pondering I began to wonder if the beauty of this ou...more
Kellie
I read this the morning after Christmas. It was an enjoyable quick read. I am usually not a fan of Mary Higgens Clark but this one kept my attention. It's the story of a family who is in NY for Christmas. The father has leukemia and is having an operation to remove his spleen. The mother and two boys, Brian and Michael, are spending some time looking at the Christmas decorations in the city. Taking a break from the tention, they are watching a fiddler play Christmas carols. When the younger boy,...more
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“A future general, Captain Jack of the Cameronians, averse to the truce when on the line, had speculated in his diary a few days earlier, in almost Shavian fashion, about the larger implications of the cease-fire, which had extended farther than governments conceded, "It is interesting to visualize the close of a campaign owing to the opposing armies--neither of them defeated--having become too friendly to continue the fight.” 1 likes
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