Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew” as Want to Read:
Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  44 ratings  ·  13 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Some Desperate Glory, please sign up.

Recent Questions

This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 686)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
Jim Coughenour
"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
This is a good book, but not a great one. Much of that goodness, moreover, comes from the poets whose work is the heart of this volume.

Max Egremont has divided his chapters -- one for each year of the war and one for the aftermath -- into two parts. In the first he provides information on the experiences of each poet that year; in the second he lets the poets speak for themselves, with a selection of poems from the same year. Egremont does not stint on the poetry, with over 100 pages of poetry
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
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
While the date of publication reeks of riding the centennial wave Egremont does display an ardent fervor for the subject. At times the author tries a bit too hard to extrapolate what the subjects must have been feeling, but this does not detract from the work on the whole, if anything it just demonstrates the author's love of the subject. Organization of the work and the relatively small number of subjects makes for a nice linear discussion and comparative analysis. This is an excellent work for ...more
This may be better understood if you hail from Great Britain, and the beginning is somewhat of a steep learning curve for those not familiar with the poets being highlighted, but getting to the emotions of this war that certainly didn't end all wars makes it well worth the read. If you've read other histories of WWI then this will be an enjoyable addition, especially seeing the war through the eyes of poets, and realizing that war poets were quite the rage back then. I loved reading about the wa ...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
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...
Interesting in that all the information has been gathered together, but somewhat lengthy. I would have liked an 80:20 ratio of poetry:prose instead of the reverse.
Rob Neyer
Interesting structure, as Egremont weaves in the doings of a number of British soldier-poets during the war, year by year; at the end of each chapter, a selection of poems published (or maybe written) during that year.

Alas, for me there were a couple of things that tripped me up. One, there are so many poets that I never really got into the narratives of their lives. And two, I didn't really enjoy the poems much, at least not until the postwar material.

In fairness, the book's well-written and t
Meg Campbell
Did a great job of getting many different view points and bringing the reader through the evolution of the literary culture.

I found his writing style a bit bizarre and sometime confusing to follow as I am not aware of all the poets from that time. I found it took away from the read. The chosen poems were great.
Angelica marked it as to-read
Oct 02, 2015
Rachel marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2015
Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson marked it as to-read
Aug 31, 2015
Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Aug 22, 2015
Zydny marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2015
Chloe marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2015
Lillian marked it as to-read
Aug 04, 2015
Sarah E
Sarah E marked it as to-read
Aug 04, 2015
Emma Dargue
Emma Dargue marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Taylor Robinson
Taylor Robinson marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Missing of the Somme
  • Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
  • Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert
  • Sagittarius Rising
  • The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931
  • Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918
  • The First World War
  • The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade
  • 1915 The Death Of Innocence
  • November 1916 (The Red Wheel #2)
  • George W. Hamilton, USMC: America's Greatest World War I Hero
  • The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century
  • The War Poems
  • The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914
  • The Red Baron
  • Leningrad: Siege and Symphony
  • Collision of Empires: The War on the Eastern Front in 1914
  • Flowers from No Man's Land: Letters to Mother from the Front Lines, World War I, France
Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia Siegfried Sassoon: A Life Under Two Flags: The Life Of Major General Sir Edward Spears Balfour: A Life Of Arthur James Balfour The Cousins: The Friendship, Opinions And Activities Of Wilfrid Scawen Blunt And George Wyndham

Share This Book