Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “1915, the Death of Innocence” as Want to Read:
1915, the Death of Innocence
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

1915, the Death of Innocence

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  309 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
By the end of 1914, the battered British forces were bogged down, yet hopeful that promised reinforcements and spring weather would soon lead to a victorious breakthrough. A year later, after appalling losses at Aubers Ridge, Loos, Neuve Chapelle, Ypres and faraway Gallipoli, fighting seemed set to go on for ever. Drawing on extensive interviews, letters and diaries, this ...more
Hardcover, 625 pages
Published December 31st 1995 by Henry Holt & Company (first published October 28th 1993)
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 1915, the Death of Innocence, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 1915, the Death of Innocence

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 24, 2015 Al rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-history
MacDonald wrote a very good narrative of a year in the Great War. She covered the action on the Western front, as well as the action at Gallipoli, making the case for “The Death of Innocence.” Her descriptions of the first German gas attacks in 1915 had a significant sense of immediacy and horror. MacDonald achieved this through her extensive use of personal interviews and the use of written first person accounts; she quotes these veterans extensively throughout the narrative. I found her descri ...more
Mac McCormick III
Aug 05, 2014 Mac McCormick III rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
As its title suggests, 1915: The Death of Innocence by Lyn MacDonald is a book that is focused on the second calendar year of World War I. It is not however, an overall look at WW1 in 1915, it is more narrowly focused on the British in 1915. It doesn't really go into detail on the French, German, Russian, Italian, or Turkish parts in the war except as allies and opponents. Neither does it go into detail on battles in which the British didn't participate in. What 1915 does do is explore how the a ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eminently readable review of the Great War in 1915. Macdonald does very good research ... going very deep into the major events of 1915. She covers not only the battles (with excellent maps), but also the preparation and aftermath. I particularly like her style of including quotes from participating individuals about the events she is covering. Not just from the officer corp , but also private soldiers, loved one's at home and civilians in the field.

However, it only covers the British effort
Jul 22, 2015 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
These are just great, great books. MacDonald does a great job relating the events of the war from the soldiers' perspectives, but without losing the overall situation. The more you know about World War I the better, but you don't have to be an expert to get a lot out of this book.

MacDonald covers the main events and battles primarily with recollections, interviews, and letters from soldiers and officers. She gives just enough background to know what's going on without boring you, and anecdotes
For most Brits the First World War is Mons, First Ypres, Gallipoli, the Somme, and Passchendaele. The Western Front in 1915 is skipped over but the battles of Neuve Chappelle, Second Ypres, Aubers Ridge, Festubert, and Loos, where Territorial and New Army troops went into action for the first time, were once as well known here as were the others.

My great grandfather was at most of these battles. My mum recalls him being "a miserable sod" but reading what he went through you can see why. There w
Rob Roy
Apr 06, 2012 Rob Roy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History and Military buffs
Shelves: 51-world-war-i
The "Great War" is often overshadowed by World War II. This book covers the British campaigns of 1915, and their slow discovery of the horror that trench warfare was. The premise, is that at the beginning of 1915, there was optimism. At the end, the realization that there was a long and bloody road ahead. The author does not dwell on the generals strategy, but more on the lives of the individual soldiers and the war from their perspective. Particularly chilling was in one battle that an attack b ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant piece of history. Lyn has used the words of those who were actually involved in these conflicts to tell the story, with the lightest facilitation by her. She is a skilled historian.
Nov 15, 2016 Guera25 rated it liked it
Based on the title, I expected an examination of the broad societal shifts and upheavals that resulted from WWI--the effects on the homefront, changing social mores, the scope and breadth of relief efforts, how the various belligerents perceived the war and their roles in it, how the war affected the social conscience.

What I got was a book full of boosterism for the ideals of the Good Olde British Empire and the troops, along with occasional smatterings of prim disapproval for the high command,
Ginger Heskett
Jan 17, 2017 Ginger Heskett marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
Juniper Shore
Somebody gave me this book as a birthday present (which tells you something about my general outlook on life). There are so many histories of the Great War you could spend a lifetime reading them all and still have no idea what was going on. People at the time couldn't figure it out, either, and The Death of Innocence makes plain just how much of daily life in the trenches consisted of improvisation, experimentation, and desperate jury-rigging.

The book covers the usual recitation of events, but
Apr 29, 2014 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: othernonfiction
A mostly narrative account of the British experience of 1915 in WW1. It covers the home front and the army both, with a lot of narrative first person accounts that follow the same individuals through a lot of the grind of 1915. The basic picture is that 1915 is the year when everyone realized the war could not be short or sweet, and that society and government both would have to change and throw away many traditions to deal with the reality of twentieth century warfare.

It was good enough for wh
Dec 10, 2015 Les rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
By January 1915, the promise that the war would be over by (the previous) Christmas was of course by now an idle boast. 1915 would be the year of "nearly" moments, none more so than the costly Battle of Loos. It would also be the time when the valour and value of the forces from the,then, Empire would be proven; the Indians early in the year at Neuve Chapelle (another nearly moment) and the Anzacs at Gallipoli, another campaign where success was always felt to be just within reach but never atta ...more
Jan 04, 2016 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've ever read about World War I and I was quite taken by the writing style and firsthand accounts from the soldiers. The devastation during the year was genuinely shocking to read about and the daily horrors of trench warfare were recounted in sometimes vivid detail. I was really surprised to learn about the British ammunition shortages and very much enjoyed learning about the Scottish and Indian troop's role in the various battles during 1915. This is definitely worth a ...more
Bill Taylor
Mar 24, 2016 Bill Taylor rated it liked it
Shelves: scanned-and-read
History mainly through the participants -- in this case the British "Tommy" who did the suffering and fighting in the trenches of WW I

In this volume, the author focuses on the British experience in the first full year of the war, 1915. She provides narrative to link events and then (through copious quotes from journals, papers, diaries) allows the soldiers, leaders, and loved ones in England to tell of what they endured in the various major engagements both in N.W. France. S.W. Belgium, and the
Feb 15, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
I bought a stack of Lyn Macdonald's books in a charity shop, and I'm impressed over and over again by the way she interlaces firsthand accounts with a summary of what was happening in the war to give an overview that's historical yet personal. In this look at the first full year of the war, we visit the heroes and villains of the Western Front, the Home Front and Gallipoli.
Jul 18, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book on the second year of the war. Lyn Macdonald interspersed her narrative with extracts of letters, diaries, and reminiscences of participants, both officers and lowly Tommies. Really gave me a sense of the reality of the battles and the everyday lives of the soldiers.
Sep 07, 2015 Brianna rated it really liked it
The best thing about this book is there are so many first-hand stories from veterans, and they are joined together in a way, that despite the book's mass (and the book's detailed focus on a subject I didn't know that much about) I didn't get lost in the process.
Steve Switzer
Jan 15, 2016 Steve Switzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww1
As always emotive and powerful writing from lyn on this one of the grimmest
years of a grim war
Lets you know what it was like for the footslogger and the general
Feb 08, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Lyn Mcdonald is one of my favourite WWI historians...not much more to say. Great book, even for people not as interested in history/WWI.
Brian rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2015
Josie Holford
Josie Holford rated it it was amazing
Sep 20, 2015
Tyrion rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2014
Patricia rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2016
Gareth rated it it was ok
Sep 22, 2012
Andrew rated it really liked it
Jun 26, 2013
Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2014
Amber rated it liked it
May 22, 2014
Jon rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2012
Stefan Van gansen
Stefan Van gansen rated it it was amazing
Feb 11, 2013
Fred Svoboda
Fred Svoboda rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The First Day on the Somme
  • Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918
  • The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918
  • The First World War
  • Death's Men: Soldiers of the Great War
  • In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign
  • No Man's Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War
  • A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • Over Here: The First World War and American Society
  • Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?
  • Eye-Deep In Hell: Trench Warfare In World War I
  • Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918
  • Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are They Called It Passchendaele, an account of the Passchendaele campaign in 1917; The Roses of No Man's Land,, a chronicle of the war from the neglected viewpoint of the casualties and the medical teams who struggled to save them; ,Somme, a history of the leg ...more
More about Lyn Macdonald...

Share This Book