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Book cover of 1915: The Death of Innocence

1915: The Death of Innocence

by Lyn Macdonald, Robert Cowley

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Pages: 672
Paperback
ISBN: 9780801864438






Available to Buy

Overview of 1915: The Death of Innocence

By Christmas 1914, the wild wave of enthusiasm that had sent men flocking to join up a few months earlier began to tail off, and though the original British Expeditionary Force had suffered 90 percent casualties, most people, particularly the soldiers themselves, still believed that 1915 would see the breaking of the deadlock. But their hopes were shattered on the bloody battlefields of Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Loos, and far away on the shores of Gallipoli.

Lyn Macdonald's story of 1915 is stark, brutal, frank, sometimes painfully funny, always human. Never before has any writer collected so many firsthand accounts of the experiences of ordinary soldiers, through diaries, letters, and interviews with survivors—and it is the dogged heroism and sardonic humor of the soldiers that shine through the pages of this epic narrative. 1915 is a uniquely compelling blend of military history and poignant memories of the fighters who survived the ordeal.

Synopsis of 1915: The Death of Innocence

By Christmas 1914, the wild wave of enthusiasm that had sent men flocking to join up a few months earlier began to tail off, and though the original British Expeditionary Force had suffered 90 percent casualties, most people, particularly the soldiers themselves, still believed that 1915 would see the breaking of the deadlock. But their hopes were shattered on the bloody battlefields of Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Loos, and far away on the shores of Gallipoli.

Lyn Macdonald's story of 1915 is stark, brutal, frank, sometimes painfully funny, always human. Never before has any writer collected so many firsthand accounts of the experiences of ordinary soldiers, through diaries, letters, and interviews with survivors — and it is the dogged heroism and sardonic humor of the soldiers that shine through the pages of this epic narrative. 1915 is a uniquely compelling blend of military history and poignant memories of the fighters who survived the ordeal.

Publishers Weekly

Based on letters, journals and memoirs, this fifth volume of Macdonald's chronicle of the Great War as British soldiers experienced it covers the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Loos, the second battle of Ypres and the Gallipoli campaign. The author provides a detailed look at the unique trench culture of the British 1st Army and analyzes ``lessons learned,'' such as the proper deployment of massed artillery and infantry reserves during that bloody year. Her assessment of Allied strategy and tactics is unparalleled in clarity. Her statistics further dramatize the loss of life on the Western Front in 1915 (Macdonald regards Gallipoli as an extension of the Western Front): Of the 19,500 square miles of German-occupied territory fought over, only eight were recovered-an average of 200,000 casualties per mile. Macdonald's vividly rendered history evokes pity and awe at the slaughter. By Christmas 1915, she notes, there was still some hope of ending the conflict quickly, but it was no longer the hope of innocent optimism. Photos. (Jan.)

About the Author, Lyn Macdonald

Lyn Macdonald is a former BBC radio producer and the author of many books, including 1914; To the Last Man: Spring 1918; First Year of Fighting; and The Roses of No Man's Land.

Reviews of 1915: The Death of Innocence

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Editorials

Times Literary Supplement

Macdonald's narrative, constructed around a succession of remarkable and fresh first-hand accounts, is both compelling and vivid.

Sunday Times (London)

By concentrating on the minutiae of life in the trenches—the daily battles with cold and damp, the endless scrounging for food, the frantic improvisation required to carry out impossible orders—Macdonald manages to convey the sheer craziness of the nightmare.

Newsday

Macdonald's heart lies firmly with the common soldiers and junior officers who manned the trenches and followed the orders that all too often cost their lives... The reader feels at times that he is actually in the thick of the battle.

Newsday

Macdonald's heart lies firmly with the common soldiers and junior officers who manned the trenches and followed the orders that all too often cost their lives... The reader feels at times that he is actually in the thick of the battle.

Sunday Times (London)

By concentrating on the minutiae of life in the trenches -- the daily battles with cold and damp, the endless scrounging for food, the frantic improvisation required to carry out impossible orders -- Macdonald manages to convey the sheer craziness of the nightmare.

Times Literary Supplement

Macdonald's narrative, constructed around a succession of remarkable and fresh first-hand accounts, is both compelling and vivid.

Publishers Weekly

Based on letters, journals and memoirs, this fifth volume of Macdonald's chronicle of the Great War as British soldiers experienced it covers the battles of Neuve Chapelle and Loos, the second battle of Ypres and the Gallipoli campaign. The author provides a detailed look at the unique trench culture of the British 1st Army and analyzes ``lessons learned,'' such as the proper deployment of massed artillery and infantry reserves during that bloody year. Her assessment of Allied strategy and tactics is unparalleled in clarity. Her statistics further dramatize the loss of life on the Western Front in 1915 (Macdonald regards Gallipoli as an extension of the Western Front): Of the 19,500 square miles of German-occupied territory fought over, only eight were recovered-an average of 200,000 casualties per mile. Macdonald's vividly rendered history evokes pity and awe at the slaughter. By Christmas 1915, she notes, there was still some hope of ending the conflict quickly, but it was no longer the hope of innocent optimism. Photos. (Jan.)

Library Journal

Macdonald presents a history of the second year of the Great War, focusing almost entirely on the impressions and experiences of common soldiers gathered from interviews over the last 20 years as well as from letters, journals, and memoirs. The author has chosen not to analyze Loos, Ypres, Neuve Chappelle, and the introduction of gas warfare in detail but rather to set the scene and let the desperate, patriotic, idealistic soldiers tell in their own words how those qualities were expunged and the desire merely to survive left in their place. The book is not a replacement for a general history, but Macdonald's considerable skill in weaving her narrative makes this an excellent addition to the literature. However, this is Macdonald's fourth compilations of World War I material; libraries holding the others may consider this one more than they need.-Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army TRALINET Ctr., Fort Monroe, Va.

From Barnes & Noble

The wild enthusiasm that fueled the initial months of fighting during World War I began to tail off by Christmas of 1914. In this book, a renowned historian draws on diary entries, personal letters, and interviews with survivors to recount the stark and brutal story of a time when illusions and ideals, optimism and innocence fell victim to the machine gun fire ripping through the trenches of the Flanders swamps. "MacDonald frames her extraordinary selection of personal accounts with historical narrative."-- The Sunday Times (London). B&W photos.

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