Discover Free Books That You'll Love!
Receive unbeatable eBook deals in your favorite fiction or non-fiction genres. Our daily emails are packed with new and bestselling authors you will love!

 

Amazon Kindle  Kobo  Nook  Google  Audible  Apple iBooks
Book cover of Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

by Neil Hanson

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pages: 512
Paperback
ISBN: 9780307276544






Available to Buy

Overview of Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

The First World War was a conflict of unprecedented ferocity. After the last shot was fired and the troops marched home, approximately three million soldiers remained unaccounted for. An unassuming English chaplain first proposed a symbolic burial in memory of all the missing dead; subsequently the idea was picked up by almost every combatant country.

Acclaimed author Neil Hanson focuses on the lives of three soldiers — an Englishman, a German, and an American — using their diaries and letters to offer an unflinching yet compassionate account of the front lines. He describes how each man endured nearly unbearable conditions, skillfully showing how the Western world arrived at the now time-honored way of mourning and paying tribute to all those who die in war.

Synopsis of Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

The First World War was a conflict of unprecedented ferocity. After the last shot was fired and the troops marched home, approximately three million soldiers remained unaccounted for. An unassuming English chaplain first proposed a symbolic burial in memory of all the missing dead; subsequently the idea was picked up by almost every combatant country.

Acclaimed author Neil Hanson focuses on the lives of three soldiers — an Englishman, a German, and an American — using their diaries and letters to offer an unflinching yet compassionate account of the front lines. He describes how each man endured nearly unbearable conditions, skillfully showing how the Western world arrived at the now time-honored way of mourning and paying tribute to all those who die in war.

The New York Times - William Grimes

In Unknown Soldiers Neil Hanson unearths three of them one American, one English and one German and drawing on their long, detailed letters to family members, creates an unforgettable picture of life in the hottest sectors of the Western Front. That takes up half the book. The rest deals with a more elusive subject, the struggle of the combatant nations to memorialize the dead, and in tombs dedicated to unknown soldiers, to express the meaning of a meaningless war in an emotionally satisfying way. There are lessons here for the artists, architects, planners and politicians scrambling to create a fitting monument for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

About the Author, Neil Hanson

Neil Hanson is the author of The Confident Hope of a Miracle, The Custom of the Sea, and The Great Fire of London. He lives in the Yorkshire Dales in England.

Reviews of Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of the First World War

There are no reviews yet. Perhaps you can add one!

Editorials

William Grimes

In Unknown Soldiers Neil Hanson unearths three of them — one American, one English and one German — and drawing on their long, detailed letters to family members, creates an unforgettable picture of life in the hottest sectors of the Western Front. That takes up half the book. The rest deals with a more elusive subject, the struggle of the combatant nations to memorialize the dead, and in tombs dedicated to unknown soldiers, to express the meaning of a meaningless war in an emotionally satisfying way. There are lessons here for the artists, architects, planners and politicians scrambling to create a fitting monument for the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
— The New York Times

Publishers Weekly

In this powerful, painful, unforgettable story of the madness and futility of war, British author Hanson (The Confident Hope of a Miracle) follows three ordinary warriors-British, German and American-through the logic-defying charnel house that was WWI. All died at the second Battle of the Somme in 1916 and end up among the war's nearly three million whose bodies remained unidentified. Making brilliant use of poignant, literary letters of these men and others, Hanson conjures a world that's hard for the modern reader to fathom. The casualty rate during the Great War was appalling: "Dead bodies were used to build the support walls for the fortified ditches; yellowing skulls, arms, legs could be seen packed tight into the dank, black soil...," writes Alec Reader, the British soldier. Hanson takes the reader directly into the horror of trench warfare. "Dead and wounded soldiers, dead and dying animals, horse cadavers, burnt-out houses, shell-cratered fields, devastated vehicles, weapons, fragments of uniforms-all this is scattered around me, in total confusion," writes German Paul Hub. "I didn't think war would be like this." Vivid, sobering and without macho swagger or sentimentality, Hanson lets the voices of the unknowns speak across a bloody century with lessons for the new one. 16 pages of b&w photos, map. (May 19) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

KLIATT

The title of this book is somewhat misleading. It's not at all a study of the many thousands of untraceable casualties representing all of the combatant nations of WW I. Nor is it really the poignant story of the Unknown Soldier monuments that represent them at their national capitols. Rather, it is the story of ordinary people caught up in a cataclysmic war, and how they reacted to their ultimate tragedy. Hanson presents three fighting men—an American flier, a British rifleman, and a German infantry officer—whose life stories he selected to represent all of the millions of men, survivors and casualties alike, who fought in that dismal war. Working diligently by means of letters, diaries, and contact with surviving family members, Hanson has assembled surprisingly detailed profiles of his three protagonists, their personalities, and their experiences. The action moves back and forth among the three as the war takes its relentless course, until each of them is killed and his body disappears in the Gotterdammerung of combat. Each family mourns, endures the stiff official sympathies, and after the Armistice tries fruitlessly to locate the body of their loved one. Their experiences mirror those of thousands of other families, all of which culminate in the creation of the Unknown Soldier memorials in their countries. The story inevitably makes for grim reading, but it is presented as the ultimate realism, never maudlin or overdramatic. Nations are assailed; people respond, men fight, and some must die. In so doing, they also prod their governments to respect their sacrifices and honor their shortened lives. Any generation that endures a war deserves that much, at the veryleast.

Library Journal

This book reminds us, lest we forget, of the carnage of World War I. Hanson (The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The True Story of the Spanish Armada) treats the subject in two parts. First, he traces the paths of three soldiers, German, British, and American, through their own harrowing accounts, revealed in letters and diaries. All three died in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme; their remains are lost on the western front along with those of nearly three million other missing men. Does Hanson shed any more light on the subject than did such survivors as Robert Graves (Good-bye to All That) or Siegfried Sassoon (Memoirs of an Infantry Soldier)? Not really, although he focuses on ordinary young men, and it is good to learn about a German infantryman's viewpoint. In his second part, Hanson moves on to the subject of remembering, mourning, and paying tribute to the dead of World War I, a process that culminated in the creation of tombs memorializing unknown soldiers. This part is fascinating social history and a good companion to John W. Graham's The Gold Star Mother Pilgrimages of the 1930s. Hanson richly describes the outpouring of grief after this war. Of interest to both specialists and military history buffs; recommended for academic and large public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Bryan Craig, Ursuline Coll., Pepper Pike, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Available to Buy

Follow Us