' ...tales of love and heroism from conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars and Afghanistan today' The Mirror 'The poignant farewells encapsulate the final words of servicemen to their loved ones before they were killed in action.' The Telegraph In this profoundly moving collection of 'farewell letters', Sian Price offers a remarkable insight into the hearts and minds of some of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the past 300 years. Each letter provides an enduring snapshot of an impossible moment - when an individual stares death squarely in the face. Many were written on the eve of a great charge or battle; others were written by soldiers who experienced premonitions of their death, or by kamikaze pilots and condemned prisoners. They write of the grim realities of battle, of daily hardships, of unquestioning patriotism or bitter regrets, of religious fervour or political disillusionment, of unrelenting optimism or sinking morale - but above all, they write of their love for their family and the desire to return to them one day. Be it an epitaph dictated on a Napoleonic battlefield, a staunch, unsentimental letter written by a Victorian officer, or an email from a soldier in modern day Afghanistan, these voices speak eloquently and forcefully of the tragedy of war and answer that fundamental human need to say goodbye.
SIAN PRICE is a multi-award-winning TV and radio producer. This book was inspired by her BBC Radio 4 documentary that won a New York Festivals Radio Award for History. SAUL KELLY is a Reader in International History at King's College, London. His books include Cold War in the Desert and The Lost Oasis.