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Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  22 ratings  ·  7 reviews
The story of World War I, through the lives and words of its poets

The hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of what many believed would be the war to end all wars is in 2014. And while World War I devastated Europe, it inspired profound poetry—words in which the atmosphere and landscape of battle are evoked perhaps more vividly than anywhere else.

The poets—many of whom wer
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2014)
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"My subject is War, and the pity of War." – Wilfred Owen

Some Desperate Glory is about "the feelings and vision of eleven fragile young men who were unlikely warriors" in the First World War – some still well-known like Owen, Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Robert Graves, Rupert Brooke; others mostly forgotten like Isaac Rosenberg, Edmund Blunden, Charles Sorley and Ivor Gurney (somehow the most tragic, which is saying a lot). Among the pile of recent weighty histories of WWI I've accumulated out of some
Some Desperate Glory – A wonderful mixture of Poetry & Explanation

During the Centenary Year remembering the start of the Great War in 1914 many books are being published in respect of the reasons for war, the first battles of the war and the great soldiers of the war. Many anthologies of the war poets are being brought out as yet another reminder of the war. Max Egremont has joined the canon of books being published about the Great War, but in Some Desperate Glory is different to the others
In 1914, the first year of the war, Rupert Brooke wrote, "Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour,/And caught our youth, and awakened us from sleeping,..." He died later that year on his way to the Dardanelles and is buried in Greece. And in 1918, the last year of the war, Wilfred Owen wrote, "My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est/Pro patria mori." He was killed on the battlefield a few months ...more
I tried reading "Guns of August," but I couldn't get a sense of emotional immediacy to the War. This book did the trick.
Dec 04, 2014 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: WWI aficionados, history generalists
Recommended to Dan by: GR
For the centenary of WWI, Max Egremont has given us a fine survey of WWI poets and poetry. More specifically, it covers British poets who actually participated in the war. "Some Desperate Glory" approaches the topic from several angles: history, biography, and the poetic works themselves.

The book is, essentially, arranged in six sections: one for each year of the war as well as one chapter covering the post war years. Each section contains biographical material about the poets, references to th
Not the best book for beginners, I don't think. Egremont pushes you in quickly, jumping from poet to poet in a couple of paragraphs (sometimes in one paragraph) and throwing in names and terms without clarifying who or what they are (count how many times he calls Rupert Brooke a Fabian socialist without explaining what a Fabian socialist is). I also thought the organization of his writing was a little wonky; 'Break of Day in the Trenches' is in the section for poems written in 1916, but Egremont ...more
Andrea Engle
As indicated by his masterful biography of Siegfried Sassoon, Max Egremont has an enviable grasp of First World War poetry ... This collection and critical analysis of 11 poets of the First World War is magnificent ... Arranged chronologically and supported by specimen poems, the book presents an overview of the poetry created during the First World War and its aftermath...
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