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Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew
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Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  21 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, 337 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2014)
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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
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, history
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
Rachel Louise Atkin
This was an enlightening book, focusing on eleven of the First World War poets and collectively telling their story year by year, and also adding a chapter on "Aftermath" to discuss the posthumous fame of some of the writers, and also the poems written by people who didn't experience the war.
Dispersed through-out is also a collection of the writer's most famous and important poems, making this a half-anthology-half-biography. This was nice, as you were able to link the work with what was happeni
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some Desperate Glory written in 2014 celebrates the one hundred year anniversary of the start of WWI by showcasing the work of the British poets who expressed their complex feelings about the war through their poetry. The author divides the book into the years of the war 1914-1918 and gives a brief overview of the war related events of the year along with a selection of the poems written during that year. I found the book to be interesting and poignant as the facts about the battles and trench w ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I tried reading "Guns of August," but I couldn't get a sense of emotional immediacy to the War. This book did the trick.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an outstanding book. On the surface it’s a collection of poetry from The First World War, but it’s more than that. It integrates the war history, the poet’s biographies, and organizes it in a year-by-year tracking of the poets and their published poems. We learn of their deaths on the battlefield for those that did not make it through the war. We learn of their families back home. We get a glimpse on their critical receptions and lasting reputations. The title of the book comes from the ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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