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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 is the story of these men - epitomised by the character of Sgt Tommy Atkins - and the women they left behind. Using previously unseen letters, diaries, memoirs and poetry from the years 1914-1918, Richard Holmes paints a moving picture of the generation that fought and died in the mud of Flanders. He follows men whose mental health was forever destroyed by shell shock, women who lost husbands and brothers in the same afteron and those who wrote at lunchtime and died before tea. Groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed, this book tells the real story of trench warfare, the strength and fallibility of the human spirit, the individuals behind an epic event, and their legacy. It is an emotional and unforgettable masterpiece from one of our most important historians.
Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most distinguished and eminent military historians and broadcasters. For many years Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science, he also taught military history at Sandhurst. He was the author of many best-selling and widely acclaimed books including Redcoat, Tommy, Marlborough and Wellington, and famous for his BBC series such as War Walks, In the Footsteps of Churchill and Wellington. He served in the Territorial Army, retiring as a brigadier and Britain's most senior reservist, and was Colonel of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment from 1999 to 2007. Richard Holmes died suddenly in April 2011 from pneumonia. He had been suffering from non-Hodgkins' Lymphoma.