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Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front
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Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The first history of World War I to place centre-stage the British soldier who fought in the trenches, this superb and important book tells the story of an epic and terrible war through the letters, diaries and memories of those who fought it.

Of the six million men who served in the British army, nearly one million lost their lives and over two million were wounded. This i
Paperback, 752 pages
Published March 7th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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This isn't a history of the First World War. It doesn't explore battles and origins, major combatants, motivations, rations, bombs. What it does do is explore the experience of the British soldiers in the trenches - who they were, why they fought, how they felt, what they did. It's broken down into thematic sections - about battalions, about weapons, about motivations for and against fighting, about relationships between ranks, about lives pre- and post-war.

It's a very well-written book, with a
Love this book and took it with me to battlefield tour of WWI in 2009. Whilst at Auchonvillers in France had the great pleasure to meet Richard Holmes and he signed my copy of Tommy.
If you ever wanted to read about the Britsh soldiers experience on the Western Front in the First World War, this is the book for you. The sections on the army's structure are less intersting but the accounts of the men who were there are rivetting. I shall never cease to be amazed at how they dealt with the sheer bloody awfulness of it all.
Edward Cain
We judge the soldiers on the Western Front by "poems they never read, or cast them in dramas they would never have bothered to watch." It makes their deeds seem alien, and their motives impenetrable. This humbling book at last takes us deep into the lives of those men: how they lived, thought and fought. It is a 600-page warning against cliche and literary sentimentality. Richard Holmes' sympathetic exploration of contemporary diaries and letters refuses to just lament the tragedy and horror of ...more
Jerry Smith
I did enjoy this book very much and came away from it with a much greater knowledge of how the British Army was organized and fought in the Great War. It is a long book, and much of the information provided sets out the administration of the army and the structure, rather than solely concentrating on the experiences of those in the front line, although there is a lot written about that too.

This is interesting in it's own right and the detail is substantial and adds to the readers knowledge of th
Interesting and involved effort to get into the heads and experiences of any and all Tommy's in any and all stages of the Western Front. In that way it fails, but only for not being twice as long.

Holmes also tries, with some success, to broaden "the lions led by donkeys", and once again has some success, if only in making the reader realize that to simplify Tommys and their leaders as being any one thing is to do a disservice to what was a very complex and evolving situation.
I've always thought of Richard Holmes as a heavyweight of the historians arena. Watching him on Battlefield and War Walks was a joy. This book upheld the belief that these TV programmes left me with. Holmes, in this book, debunks popular misconceptions of the way in which WWI was fought. While doing so, he provides a rich tapestry of the way soldiers lived, slept and ate, as well as everything in between. He relies on both first hand accounts and detailed historical knowledge. At times the book ...more
Chris Passingham
I have given this book 5 stars because it is a wonderfully well written and keenly observed account of real life in the trenches and it also debunks many myths and popular misconceptions about the Great War from the standpoint of a well known and respected historian
If you can get through the first 200 pages of abstruse militaria, you'll be rewarded with a fascinating and impeccably-researched account of life on the Western Front. The final chapter, on life after the war, is particularly moving
Mark Whaite
That the western front in 1916 was not a good place to be and that the British Army may make mistakes but, they do seem to learn from them.
russell barnes
Dull - gave it to my father-in-law
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
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Richard Holmes was Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. He was educated at Cambridge, Northern Illinois, and Reading Universities, and carried out his doctoral research on the French army of the Second
More about Richard Holmes...
Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket Wellington: The Iron Duke Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and A World War II: The Definitive Visual History: From Blitzkrieg to the Atom Bomb Acts of War: Behavior of Men in Battle

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