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Now It Can Be Told (World War Classics Presents)

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Written by a British war correspondent who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI, the title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war.   An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate Written by a British war correspondent who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI, the title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war.   An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate commendation of the suffering, sacrifices, and heroism, without glorification of fighting. It is clearly an anti-war treatise, but without denigrating the service and sacrifice of those whose lives were changed forever by their experiences in France and Belgium.   Now It Can Be Told is thought by many not only as one of the best WWI books, but as one of the best war/history books on record.


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Written by a British war correspondent who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI, the title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war.   An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate Written by a British war correspondent who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI, the title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war.   An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate commendation of the suffering, sacrifices, and heroism, without glorification of fighting. It is clearly an anti-war treatise, but without denigrating the service and sacrifice of those whose lives were changed forever by their experiences in France and Belgium.   Now It Can Be Told is thought by many not only as one of the best WWI books, but as one of the best war/history books on record.

30 review for Now It Can Be Told (World War Classics Presents)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elliot

    I first discovered this book about three years ago, when I was wandering through my college library as an inquisitive freshman. At that time, the book stood out to me due to its age, its vague yet suggestive title, and the equally simple but evocative frontispiece, captioned Ruins along a French road—now a familiar scene in France. It is hard to say why, but these aspects of the book remained sharp in my memory even several years later. Having read close to a dozen books about the First World Wa I first discovered this book about three years ago, when I was wandering through my college library as an inquisitive freshman. At that time, the book stood out to me due to its age, its vague yet suggestive title, and the equally simple but evocative frontispiece, captioned Ruins along a French road—now a familiar scene in France. It is hard to say why, but these aspects of the book remained sharp in my memory even several years later. Having read close to a dozen books about the First World War since then, I figured that now was a good time to return to this book and give it a read. The author, Philip Gibbs, was one of five official British war correspondents sent to the Western Front in March 1915 (though he had witnessed the first months of the war in an unofficial capacity as well). Throughout the rest of the war he lived along the front, writing despatches daily, which were then edited and approved by the censors. If it was not already clear, the title should make sense now: removed from the grip of wartime censorship, in this book Gibbs was able to include details (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and express his thoughts to a degree which was impossible during the war. The result is a powerful book. Written by the pen of an experienced journalist and novelist, the prose is vivid and keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. Now It Can Be Told is a combination of a memoir and a narrative history. There are eight parts (or chapters), and the middle six take the reader along a roughly chronological journey through the war. I say roughly because there are times where Gibbs jumps ahead to future years and events, such as in part five, in which he discusses life in the city of Amiens. The book is weighted more heavily to the first half of the war, i.e. from 1915 through to the end of 1916. Concerning the last two years of the war, he writes, There is no need for me to retell all that history in detail, and I am glad to know that there is nothing I need alter in the record of events which I wrote as they happened, because they have not been falsified by and new evidence; and those detailed descriptions of mine stand true in fact and the emotion of the hours that passed…(449) The first chapter contains a good deal of exposition, discussing the beginning of the war briefly, while the last chapter is a very personal conclusion, in which he discusses the war (its belligerents and its effects) and explains his anxiety about the fate of Europe after the war. Within each part, Gibbs writes in an episodic manner, jumping from anecdote to anecdote, often quoting several different people on a single page. His style initially caught me off guard, though it quickly grew on me. I suspect it is indicative of his source material: brief notes from his own observations here, transcriptions of a conversation there. Gibbs does not provide any sources for his quotes (or anything else, for that matter), the assumption being that he transcribed the speech at some point after he heard it. Clearly, this lack of sources requires a great deal of trust on the part of the reader. A critical reader might be inclined to say that at the very least Gibbs exaggerated a piece of dialogue here or a certain story there. It is impossible to know one way or the other, and this reader at least feels comfortable with the author’s credibility. Gibbs was a British war correspondent, and naturally this book is almost exclusively focused on the British operations and personnel. However, in the preface he notes that, “[h]ere it is the reality of modern warfare not only as it appears to British soldiers, of whom I can tell, but to soldiers on all the fronts where conditions were the same (vii).” Gibbs delights in mentioning specific units, always noting whether where the men came from, whether they were from London or Northern England, from Canada or Australia. Over the course of the book, he does spend some time discussing the French and Germans too. Of course, it does not really matter that this book is not an objective history. It is not meant to be. What it is is an extraordinarily moving account of human courage and folly; of hope and despair; joy and fury. Reading this book made me reflect, really reflect, on a number of topics: the world around me, human indentity, and myself. I could have finished this book in half the time, but I found myself taking a day off between parts, absorbing what I had just read and thinking about it. This book is written in such a straightforward yet plaintive manner. It is tragic and moving, and it is genuine. I feel like it would be appropriate to end the review there, but I want to add a few extra comments. Mainly, I think this book will be most enjoyed if one has a decent knowledge of the history of the First World War—at least on the Western Front. At the very least it might be worth your time to look at a map of northern France and Flanders to familiarize yourself with the slew of place names. Gibbs writes with the expectation that the reader has a good knowledge of the places and events of the war, which may be frustrating to someone who does not. At any rate, I think this book is still worth reading, no matter your prior knowledge of the war. It has been one hundred years exactly since Now It Can Be Told was first published. Much has changed since then, but the power of the written word remains as potent as ever. This book is proof of that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Campbell

    This was shatteringly good. His descriptions of life on the Western front are incredible in their awfulness. I'll add some quotes to this later so you can see for yourselves. If you are at all interested in eye witness accounts of warfare, this is one not to be missed. It's available for free on Project Gutenberg. "Our High Command had to learn by mistakes, by ghastly mistakes, repeated often, until they became visible to the military mind and were paid for again by the slaughter of British youth This was shatteringly good. His descriptions of life on the Western front are incredible in their awfulness. I'll add some quotes to this later so you can see for yourselves. If you are at all interested in eye witness accounts of warfare, this is one not to be missed. It's available for free on Project Gutenberg. "Our High Command had to learn by mistakes, by ghastly mistakes, repeated often, until they became visible to the military mind and were paid for again by the slaughter of British youth. One does not blame. A writing-man, who was an observer and recorder, like myself, does not sit in judgement. He has no right to judge. He merely cries out, 'Oh God!... O God!' in remembrance of all that agony and that waste of splendid boys who loved life, and died." "When I think of France I am tempted to see no greater thing than such patriotism as that to justify the gospel of hate against such an enemy, to uphold vengeance as a sweet virtue. Yet if I did so I should deny the truth that has been revealed to many men and women by the agony of the war - that if civilisation may continue patriotism is 'not enough', that international hatred will produce other wars worse than this, in which civilisation will be submerged, and that vengeance, even for dreadful crimes, cannot be taken of a nation without punishing the innocent more than the guilty, so that out of its cruelty and injustice new fires of hatred are lighted, the demand for vengeance passes to the other side, and the devil finds another vicious circle in which to trap the souls of men..." "He even denounces the salute to the flag, instinctive and sacred in the heart of every Frenchman, as a fetish worship in which the narrow bigotry of national arrogance is raised above the rights of the common masses of men." "If Christianity has no restraining influence upon the brutal instincts of those who profess and follow its faith, then surely it is time the world abandoned so ineffective a creed and turned to other laws likely to have more influence on human relationships." It really is a most remarkable book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Golaszewski

    Written by a british war correspondant who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI. Title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war. An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate commendation of the suffering, sacrifices, and heroism, without glorification of fighting. Clearly an anti-war treatise, but witho Written by a british war correspondant who was present in and around the front lines of the western front for the entirety of WWI. Title refers to the fact that his writings here are published without the censorship that was in place during the war. An absolutely outstanding account of the realities of war in general, WWI trench warfare in particular, with appropriate commendation of the suffering, sacrifices, and heroism, without glorification of fighting. Clearly an anti-war treatise, but without denegrating the service and sacrifice of those whose lives were changed forever by their experiences in France and Belgium. A bit repetitious at times, but this is reflective of the army experience in general, and probably necessary to drive home the idea of the utterly pointless loss of a generation of young people. The best WWI book I have read, and one of the best war/ history books I have ever read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Markfield

    This book is a must-read for anyone interested in World War I. It paints a realistic and brutal picture of the daily reality for millions of people during the "war to end all wars." This is the stuff Gibbs wasn't allowed to publish during the war, and it's incredible. A reminder of the tangible and intangible costs of war. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in World War I. It paints a realistic and brutal picture of the daily reality for millions of people during the "war to end all wars." This is the stuff Gibbs wasn't allowed to publish during the war, and it's incredible. A reminder of the tangible and intangible costs of war.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Dennington

    I would describe this book as literary nonfiction. Its magnificent, heartbreaking prose is like poetry - infinitely readable. And horrific. It makes you ask a hundred questions, as it did the survivors of this great crime: Why? How can there be a God? Is this why Britain went Socialist and mostly pagan after those terrible events. The ordinary man’s life didn’t count for much and obviously if there was a God then He didn’t care much either. World War One was unimaginably monstrous, run by govern I would describe this book as literary nonfiction. Its magnificent, heartbreaking prose is like poetry - infinitely readable. And horrific. It makes you ask a hundred questions, as it did the survivors of this great crime: Why? How can there be a God? Is this why Britain went Socialist and mostly pagan after those terrible events. The ordinary man’s life didn’t count for much and obviously if there was a God then He didn’t care much either. World War One was unimaginably monstrous, run by governments and fools—‘lions led by donkeys’, the soldiers said. A waste of life, liberty, blood and treasure, as well as great beauty. Now It Can Be Told is certainly one of the best book I’ve read and I would give it five stars without hesitation. Oh, to write like him! Now I must find more books by Philip Gibbs. Readers sometimes say, ‘I was sorry to finish this book’, and for me, this was truly the case. In addition to his superlative description of the men’s lives at the Front (on both sides of no man’s land), showing their suffering, their courage, and even their sense of humor, Gibbs also gives us insight into life when the war was over and during the stalling of their demobilization for months before they at last went home. He describes men still in the frame of mind of wild beasts, or broken, and maimed in mind and body, the poverty, unemployment, rioting, looming revolution and Britain at the end of her superpower status through crippling debt.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sidney Weber

    Brilliant description of the horrors of war This book describes WWI as seen by a journalist who was there throughout its extent. The description is simply brilliant. Without concentrating on the gory details, it captures the physical and mental horrors suffered by the soldiers in a manner that would be highly enjoyable if it were not so gruesome.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Charles Phillips

    Gibbs was one of five reporters embedded with British troops in WWI. His substantial reporting during the war was heavily censored--no bad news for the home front and all those johnnies who may want to enlist. After the war, no longer fettered, he roundly chastises the British high command and the British 'regulars,' who openly disdain territorial troops and draftees, many of whom are citizen-soldiers who show much more initiative, more concern for their troops, and more creative thinking than t Gibbs was one of five reporters embedded with British troops in WWI. His substantial reporting during the war was heavily censored--no bad news for the home front and all those johnnies who may want to enlist. After the war, no longer fettered, he roundly chastises the British high command and the British 'regulars,' who openly disdain territorial troops and draftees, many of whom are citizen-soldiers who show much more initiative, more concern for their troops, and more creative thinking than the 'old army' staff. His vividly describes life in the lines and the reaction of British troops to the horrors of war. Frequently he quotes the soldiers' letters or his conversations with them. He writes of all those courageous attacks that General Head Quarters (GHQ) planned, with the cavalry (yes, the cavalry) arrayed just behind the lines ready to exploit any break in enemy lines, and the cavalry still clogging the roads as troops returned from the unchanged front, and the wounded were being transported to field hospitals in the rear. He acidly compares the glorious surroundings at GHQ with life in the trenches. He also clearly demonstrates that the 'we can see the light at the end of the tunnel' rhetoric did not originate in Vietnam. He interviews cheery English generals who are jolly sure the the next attack will be "the one" One of the most interesting portions of the book is the unfortunately short discussion of post-war Britain. Troops rioted to be transported home or released from service--they signed up for the duration, and no more; draftees and volunteers were willing to protect England from Germany but they had no taste at all for being sent out, after surviving the war in France, to protect the far reaches of The British Empire. Crime, violence, and suicide, according to Gibbs, skyrocketed after the troops returned home. No wonder, since trench warfare spread what we now know as PTSD among the survivors as effectively as population concentrations spread the 1918 flu. Very near the beginning of the book, Gibbs recounts a telling moment. He has just returned from Belgium at the beginning of the war. This was when the Germans were executing Belgian hostages when they met any resistance (sound familiar) and advancing behind lines of civilians (Where have we heard that before?). Towns were being blasted out of existence by massive artillery barrages or set ablaze. Just after his return to England, when he was walking down the halls of his paper's offices, a colleague passed him with a question about his time in Belgium,. "Have fun?" he asked. We have truly become, after the later wars of the 20th century, less cavalier about war and what it means. But, unfortunately, not to the extent required to build a world where we shed no blood unless justice and our common humanity absolutely demand it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    Not exactly a great place to start reading about World War One (the book was written in 1919, when readers would have lived through and have intimate knowledge or the events described) but if you know more-or-less how the war went for the British on the western fron this is a really excellent book. Gibbs was one of five (in 1914) journalists given permission to report directly from the front. They had free reign of the battlefields and access from the lowest to highest ranks of the British (later Not exactly a great place to start reading about World War One (the book was written in 1919, when readers would have lived through and have intimate knowledge or the events described) but if you know more-or-less how the war went for the British on the western fron this is a really excellent book. Gibbs was one of five (in 1914) journalists given permission to report directly from the front. They had free reign of the battlefields and access from the lowest to highest ranks of the British (later Australian, Canadian, French and America) military. However, all of their work was vetted by a team of censors. Especially frowned upon were accounts of allied defeats or withdrawals, accurate casualty numbers, descriptions of wounds mortal or otherwise. This infuriated Gibbs to the extent that he began to compose a completely uncensored account of the war as he saw it from the battle of the Marne right up to entering Cologne in 1918. This means the book is filled with extremely grim accounts of the staggering casualties endured at places like Ypres, Flanders and The Somme. It's not a book for the squeamish but it gets across amazingly well that the first world war was human misery almost beyond description. Gibbs also uses the book to excoriate the British, German and French Governments and High Command for the war and points out the utter hypocrisy of Britain joining the war out of outrage for Belgium while denying Ireland its freedom on multiple occasions. He goes full on Billy Bragg towards the end when he gets into talking about the fate of the working man but that's pretty interesting too. It also gives a good idea of the civilian side of the war near the front and reveals the far greater impact aircraft bombing had behind the lines. There is some untranslated French but it's only a few sentences and I was able to get most and I got a C in pass French in the leaving. It's also free! Go download it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zoë Fruchter

    A must-read for anyone interested in World War I, or even, just interested in the follies of mankind which refuses to learn but at the cost of its youth.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nate Jacobsen

    Now it Can be Told is a dreadful book; dreadful to read, dreadful to think about. If it has not endured time as famously as other WWI works it is in part because it is not a novel, giving it the freedom to explore the same subjects with a sort of repetition that is benumbing. This is however the truth of what it is exploring, after all, a person can "grasp" the essentials of the WWI quickly but it is the scale and the endlessness that takes a horrid physical and psychological individual experien Now it Can be Told is a dreadful book; dreadful to read, dreadful to think about. If it has not endured time as famously as other WWI works it is in part because it is not a novel, giving it the freedom to explore the same subjects with a sort of repetition that is benumbing. This is however the truth of what it is exploring, after all, a person can "grasp" the essentials of the WWI quickly but it is the scale and the endlessness that takes a horrid physical and psychological individual experience and expands it to fill the geographical and chronological expanse of the war. It is a difficult read because of the repetition of scenery, of facts, of numbers and divisions and slaughter; the terror of bombardments, mining, trench raids and the initial errors of generals and officers that performed "experiments" upon the field of battle, costing them little personally but the lives of thousands of individuals. It is an account that is sensitive to questions of morale and perception of the war as Gibbs spent much of the war near the front lines, in field hospitals, and in towns situated adjacent to and later on the German side of the action. Most of the time he is an observer but he runs extensive risk himself; telling at one time a story of vacillation between his room and the basement of the building he is occupying, in a town under bombardment. Laying uneasily in bed listening to the surrounding explosions, moving down the the basement to wait listlessly in the cold with the others. Back up to the room and down again, repeated for the duration of the night, finally conceding that in the case of direct hit it would not make much of a difference which room he occupied. His unrest is governed by the same blind dumb luck that leaves one man out of a group of ten alive when a shell explodes nearby. When a five hundred yard stretch of a trench resembles Armageddon but further down all is quiet; the men with the good fortune to be outside of that hell reflecting contemplatively upon their luck, or quelling their fear of the near-inevitability of when their trench will 'light up' in the same manner with jokes and dark humor. It is the hundreds of thousands of individual experiences of a war governed by chaos that paints the canvas of his text and makes personal the impersonal violence of war. As an English war correspondent his account is decidedly Anglocentric with only mentions of French battles and maneuvers and even less of the Eastern Front. In this way his account does not encompass the facts of the whole war, but his insight in his specific theater to things often unmentioned makes the work unique. It is the men he speaks to, the personal stories he has to tell, and the first-hand witnessing of war shaping events that makes "Now it Can be Told" a compelling and worthwhile, if difficult, read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Casey Wagner

    A heartbreaking classic. After three years of research, books, podcasts, documentaries, and interviews I must admit that this novel is the greatest piece of writing on The Great War I have had the pleasure of absorbing. Philip Gibbs recounts his monumental experience as one of Britain's five official war corespondents during the first world war. He toured a good portion of the Western Front, and observed first hand two of the deadliest battles in human history; The Battle of the Marne, and The S A heartbreaking classic. After three years of research, books, podcasts, documentaries, and interviews I must admit that this novel is the greatest piece of writing on The Great War I have had the pleasure of absorbing. Philip Gibbs recounts his monumental experience as one of Britain's five official war corespondents during the first world war. He toured a good portion of the Western Front, and observed first hand two of the deadliest battles in human history; The Battle of the Marne, and The Somme respectively. What elevates Gibbs' depiction of these well documented tragedies is the grounded and personal perspective. This is not a book to read for exact troop numbers, flanking maneuvers, and the ratio of shells per square meter. This is a book about the human experience, living in an environment at the extremes of what any person has ever had to endure. Battles are not marked by large scale strategic blunders, but by the personal tragedy those blunders caused. It tells the tales of individual fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons who each maintained their own "love of life" as Gibbs states but had theirs violently cut short over a conflict so nonsensical nihilism of the human condition begins to seep into the reader. Gibbs was aware the effect his writing would have on his audiences, and addresses this by recounting the lighter aspects experienced as well (the joys of German wine being found in a near village, the card games played on the trench floor in the dead of night, and the deep religious discussions held between pastors and traumatized soldiers). This book paints the tragedy of the war in such a way which will be burned into my brain forever, even after all this time, with so many recounts and journals read, there are a few tales within these pages which are gonna stay with me for a long time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tally, The Chatty Introvert

    I found this an incredible read, a necessary read, for anyone wanting to understand more about WWI from a contemporary (it was published in 1920, for crying out loud). Must read, must read...the style is interesting, in that it feels a bit disjointed, but the pattern follows the war in a sense: moments of tedium and then intense action, drama, suffering. There aren't interviews or many big names, and this is written from the British perspective. Obviously, since the correspondent was British and I found this an incredible read, a necessary read, for anyone wanting to understand more about WWI from a contemporary (it was published in 1920, for crying out loud). Must read, must read...the style is interesting, in that it feels a bit disjointed, but the pattern follows the war in a sense: moments of tedium and then intense action, drama, suffering. There aren't interviews or many big names, and this is written from the British perspective. Obviously, since the correspondent was British and all. But he does give lots of info, and not too much breaking things down to explain. I think it was written for a contemporary audience more than the ages. There's casual name-dropping in a few instances, and no names in many more, but places and general descriptions where it's necessary. Then again, it fits the mindless, mechanical warfare where millions of nameless men went to fight and die at the front. I found my eyes getting wet in a few places while reading this, not at the moments of worst carnage that Gibbs describes, but more at the ending, after the armistice and the truths discovered. There are some personal asides to the reader, but they're reserved and not intrusive, left for the end of part/chapter segments as little editorials. He lets the events speak to the reader.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nick DD

    If you're interested in World War I, this book is a must read. Provides a vivid 1st Person account of World War I from the British perspective. Extremely thorough. Even though the author was British, he interviewed many other combatants from many other countries and provided their perspectives as well (as best he could) based on the information he collected. At times, I was spellbound by his descriptions. Does get a bit "long" at times, but I would guess fighting in World War I felt "long" as we If you're interested in World War I, this book is a must read. Provides a vivid 1st Person account of World War I from the British perspective. Extremely thorough. Even though the author was British, he interviewed many other combatants from many other countries and provided their perspectives as well (as best he could) based on the information he collected. At times, I was spellbound by his descriptions. Does get a bit "long" at times, but I would guess fighting in World War I felt "long" as well... so I'll give it a pass. Definitely not a casual read. Must have prior interest in World War I history to appreciate the magnitude of this account. As a history teacher, I'm really glad I was finally able to read it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    It’s somewhat hard to believe that this book was written 100 years ago. The descriptions of the cruelties man inflicts upon man, the manipulation of those powerful in society against those not so. But so powerful is the description of the human spirit. The endurance of the human soul. The ability of those to believe and sacrifice yet unknowing that many of those in control are unfit to hold that position. Such a good book and so well written. Oh, and keep a map handy, locations given are fascina It’s somewhat hard to believe that this book was written 100 years ago. The descriptions of the cruelties man inflicts upon man, the manipulation of those powerful in society against those not so. But so powerful is the description of the human spirit. The endurance of the human soul. The ability of those to believe and sacrifice yet unknowing that many of those in control are unfit to hold that position. Such a good book and so well written. Oh, and keep a map handy, locations given are fascinating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    As far as war memoirs go, I haven't read many from the First World War. Gibbs was a journalist tasked with covering the British front starting with 1914, and this book is a compendium of all he has produced during those 5 years, living as he was with the soldiers in their own environment. It's long, but never feels tedious, and I am always grateful to those who were witness to something and then were able to accurately express (as much as they can) the reality of what they saw. I recommend this As far as war memoirs go, I haven't read many from the First World War. Gibbs was a journalist tasked with covering the British front starting with 1914, and this book is a compendium of all he has produced during those 5 years, living as he was with the soldiers in their own environment. It's long, but never feels tedious, and I am always grateful to those who were witness to something and then were able to accurately express (as much as they can) the reality of what they saw. I recommend this to any history nerd or military history student.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amber Jenkins

    Wow... I had no idea this was what World War One held for those who fought. This book was amazing and would have been 5 stars if not for the length and repetition of themes. Basically it was a gruesome, innocence taking, probably avoidable war. If you want to understand WWI at the ground level read this book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Kuehn

    I didn't finish. Just too hard to read. I suspect if read in 1915 there would have been enough context in popular culture for it to make sense. But it is too disjointed, stumbling and vague. I just couldn't get into it. I didn't finish. Just too hard to read. I suspect if read in 1915 there would have been enough context in popular culture for it to make sense. But it is too disjointed, stumbling and vague. I just couldn't get into it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Purvis

    Really brought home the horror of WW1, and the reality to those unlucky enough to be thrust onto the front line. A really well written book, that really doesn't show its age at all. Highly recommended. I read most of this on a camp site in the Somme, it made it all very real. Really brought home the horror of WW1, and the reality to those unlucky enough to be thrust onto the front line. A really well written book, that really doesn't show its age at all. Highly recommended. I read most of this on a camp site in the Somme, it made it all very real.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phil Clymer

    This is an outstanding work, written by the WWI equivalent of the embedded reporter, and it told mainly from the perspective of the fighting man. It is one of the best accounts I've encountered. This is an outstanding work, written by the WWI equivalent of the embedded reporter, and it told mainly from the perspective of the fighting man. It is one of the best accounts I've encountered.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Corbin Routier

    "When Germany threw down her challenge to Russia and France, and England... some newspaper correspondents were sent out from London to report the proceedings, and I was one of them [1 of 5 that were sent]." "... they [the Army] believed that war was the special prerogative of professional soldiers, of which politicians and people should have no knowledge. Therefore as civilians in khaki we were hardly better than spies." "Nine men out of ten in the ranks did not even know the name of their army ge "When Germany threw down her challenge to Russia and France, and England... some newspaper correspondents were sent out from London to report the proceedings, and I was one of them [1 of 5 that were sent]." "... they [the Army] believed that war was the special prerogative of professional soldiers, of which politicians and people should have no knowledge. Therefore as civilians in khaki we were hardly better than spies." "Nine men out of ten in the ranks did not even know the name of their army general or of the corps commander. It meant nothing to them. They did not face death with more passionate courage to win the approval of a military idol." "What mainly was wrong with our generalship was the system which put the High Command into the hands of a group of men... unable, by reason of their age and traditions, to get away from rigid methods and to become elastic in face of new conditions." "It was fear of their own people, not of the enemy, which guided the rules of censorship then and later." "In those long days of trench warfare and stationary lines it was boredom that was the worst malady of the mind; a large, overwhelming boredom to thousands of men who were in exile from the normal interests of life and from the activities of brain-work; an intolerable, abominable boredom, sapping the will-power, the moral code, the intellect..." "Each side was in a trap - a devil's trap from which there was no escape. Loyalty to their own side, discipline, with the death penalty behind it, spell words of old tradition, obedience to the laws of war or to the caste which ruled them, all the moral and spiritual propaganda handed out by pastors, newspapers, generals, staff-officers, old men at home, exalted women, female furies, a deep and simple love for England and Germany, pride of manhood, fear of cowardice - a thousand complexities of thought and sentiment prevented men, on both sides, from breaking the net of fate in which they were entangled and revolting against that mutual, unceasing massacre, by rising from the trenches with a shout of 'We're all fools!... Let's all go home!'." One of the most memorable images conjured by the author, is recounting how when soldiers had to re-dig trenches, they would find bodies from the year before in the old position. Unfortunately, the author is not the greatest writer. "[cowardice]... or 'low morale' as we called it more kindly."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brad Steele

    Was quite difficult to read early owing to the lack of any cohesive narrative, but the longer it went the more Gibbs' unbelievable writing shone through. Many unforgettable passages. Stunning that this was even allowed to be published in 1919 considering the immense criticism of the leaders at the time. Such sympathy and reverence for the soldiers who lived and died through a literal hell on earth. Was quite difficult to read early owing to the lack of any cohesive narrative, but the longer it went the more Gibbs' unbelievable writing shone through. Many unforgettable passages. Stunning that this was even allowed to be published in 1919 considering the immense criticism of the leaders at the time. Such sympathy and reverence for the soldiers who lived and died through a literal hell on earth.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Bergeron

    Had some interesting parts but it’s just 1,000,000 short stories compiled together over 650 pages so it makes it hard to get into a flow and really enjoy it. Sometimes you are really into it and others you don’t know what he’s talking about. Doesn’t help that none of the chapters have names or anything, just numbers. You need a ton of context and prior knowledge to understand what he’s on about

  23. 4 out of 5

    Corbett Knoff

    This is the best book I've read on WW1 hands down. I wish everyone would read this to have somewhat of an understanding on what life was like for the the people during WW1. I will never forget some of the memoirs in this book. I feel like life is easy compared to what they went through. This is the best book I've read on WW1 hands down. I wish everyone would read this to have somewhat of an understanding on what life was like for the the people during WW1. I will never forget some of the memoirs in this book. I feel like life is easy compared to what they went through.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    WW1 written as seen from a war correspondent. This was incredibly detailed and gave so much insight into what went on during the war.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy Hansen

    Ought to be read to gain an understanding of the human experience of WW1. His thoughts on the conflict between Christianity and the brutalities of war are also worth pondering.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tflinn

    Truly a great book on WW1 in France.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Written shortly after the war, when journalist Philip Gibbs was finally able to publish what the censors had blocked while the fighting was still going on. Gibbs goes to some dark places and generally finds some dark things, although he also attempts to convey the fact that "the boys" attempted to triumph over adversity, both physical and mental. His sympathy is for those in the front lines, regardless of what side they fought on, and he has nothing but vitriol for the profiteers, jingos and tho Written shortly after the war, when journalist Philip Gibbs was finally able to publish what the censors had blocked while the fighting was still going on. Gibbs goes to some dark places and generally finds some dark things, although he also attempts to convey the fact that "the boys" attempted to triumph over adversity, both physical and mental. His sympathy is for those in the front lines, regardless of what side they fought on, and he has nothing but vitriol for the profiteers, jingos and thoughtless civilians back home. He also shows a sadly nasty opinion for most women, be they proto-flappers, society ladies or prostitutes. The Germans get a fairer shake. Anyway, Gibbs' is an interesting story. Unlike many of the front line soldiers, who would have been killed or incapacitated during this time frame, he was there for the whole show, 1914-1918 and saw all the changes in the men, the terrain, the cities/towns/villages and the war machine over that period of time. The magnitude to the the suffering is beyond description (although Gibbs does his best) and the futility both at the time, and in the long run, is heartbreaking.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Simon Spero

    On a WWI kick that's completely unrelated to some Downtown Abbey. Gibbs is not quite at the level that Ernie Pyle would later reach, but the feel is similar; it's down in the mud, rain and blood, and shows the one line "objective taken with some sharp fighting" in the official histories as the almost pointless slaughter they were. A bit too close to the ground to get the full picture, and later revisionist histories present a fairer and more accurate account of what the generals were trying for, On a WWI kick that's completely unrelated to some Downtown Abbey. Gibbs is not quite at the level that Ernie Pyle would later reach, but the feel is similar; it's down in the mud, rain and blood, and shows the one line "objective taken with some sharp fighting" in the official histories as the almost pointless slaughter they were. A bit too close to the ground to get the full picture, and later revisionist histories present a fairer and more accurate account of what the generals were trying for, and how tactics and strategies were continually evolving. Regardless, the only way that July 1st 1916 can truly be understood is from close enough to feel the sense of hopeless (prayers for rain unnecessary) (view spoiler)[The Germans lose. The Peace has bad economic consequences (hide spoiler)] Available from Project Gutenberg

  29. 4 out of 5

    Philip Harris

    "In its first glamour of white, the snow gave a beauty even to No Man's Land, making a lace-work pattern of barbed wire, and lying very softly over the tumbled ground of mine-fields, so that all the ugliness of destruction and death was hidden under this canopy. The snowflakes fluttered upon stark bodies there, and shrouded them tenderly. It was as though all the doves of peace were flying down to fold their wings above the obscene things of war." What. A. Bitch. Ww1 was. Worst war in human hist "In its first glamour of white, the snow gave a beauty even to No Man's Land, making a lace-work pattern of barbed wire, and lying very softly over the tumbled ground of mine-fields, so that all the ugliness of destruction and death was hidden under this canopy. The snowflakes fluttered upon stark bodies there, and shrouded them tenderly. It was as though all the doves of peace were flying down to fold their wings above the obscene things of war." What. A. Bitch. Ww1 was. Worst war in human history; took not only 1 new generation (if that) to launch a war even worse. This can be a hard book to read as Gibbs jumps around a lot and includes lots of references to the French countryside most people are probably not familiar, but otherwise a great read. Be prepared to continually shake your head wondering how anyone managed to fight in this war.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    Truth be told, I have not finished this book. It’s on my Kindle and I go to it wherever I have time, but it’s extremely long and full of wonderful detail so I enjoy taking it in a dozen or so pages at a time. The book is free on Amazon and is worth the effort of anyone who has an interest in WWI or in war in general. Gibbs does a brilliant job of showing the stupidity of war and the cluelessness of generals, as well as the amazing courage of those who kill and die senselessly trying to carry out Truth be told, I have not finished this book. It’s on my Kindle and I go to it wherever I have time, but it’s extremely long and full of wonderful detail so I enjoy taking it in a dozen or so pages at a time. The book is free on Amazon and is worth the effort of anyone who has an interest in WWI or in war in general. Gibbs does a brilliant job of showing the stupidity of war and the cluelessness of generals, as well as the amazing courage of those who kill and die senselessly trying to carry out the insanity. There are details here that I’ve never seen anywhere else including the way he details how certain civilians continue their lives as war engulfs them, seeing some amazing sights as death rains down.

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