Book Club Recommends: Books about World War One

Monday, October 19, 2015

Paper Bindings | Book Club Recommends: Books about World War One

WWI: The war to end all wars that, obviously, didn't actually end all wars. Sad, but true. WWI did, however, created some really good literature (both written during and based on it) that our Book Club will happily recommend to you!

All Quiet on the Western Front: Pretty much every well known, well-loved, book about a war is told from the point of view of the victors. This was one of the few books to successfully humanize the “bad guys”. The kids, the soldiers, portrayed in the book are shown as just that, boys who become soldiers, who become (or don’t) survivors. They aren’t bad, or different, or even wrong in their choices/motives. It also does a great job of debunking the old mystique that surrounds the glory of war: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”

A Death-Struck Year: reviewed here. It's a quick read and worth the time. Great story about the end of World War I and a terrifying pandemic that changed the world.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds: Books like this are wonderful examples of why historical fiction is awesome. Sure, we'd read about World War I and the 1918 pandemic but it so often gets overlooked by the more flashy 1920s and WWII that came after it and the exciting Victorian era and Gilded Age that came before. "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" really made us feel like we were in 1918. We got the sense of just how horrible it must have been to be alive back then. The world's burning down in war and then people are dropping dead of the flu. On top of that, an entire social and economic system is crumbling to the dust. No wonder people turned to the supernatural or just something to make sense of all this loss.

The Last Town on Earth: This book made us feel what it would be like to be isolated and quarantined during one of the biggest epidemics in the world. This came out a little before World War I and The Spanish Flu books became a popular topic again and we have often gone back to this one.

A Little Princess: We love a little princess!

Private Peaceful: Very much like All Quiet on the Western Front but from an Englishboy’s point of view. If you ever wanted to read more about the William’s (a la Downton Abbey), than the Crowleys, then this book is for you.

WWI poetry: especially anything by Siegfried Sassoon or Wilfred Owen, both of whom fought for England in the war, and are pretty interesting historical figures (Look them up, they are fascinating people). Sassoon’s poetry (and political views) actually got him admitted to a military psychiatric hospital during the war, where he met and befriended Owen. Personally we prefer Sassoon’s work, but popular opinion suggests that Owen’s is more universally appreciated. You know what they say about the point of poetry being to expose the human soul..? This stuff can get pretty depressing and thought provoking, so tread lightly. That quotation at the end of the summary for All Quiet on the Western Front comes from one of Owen’s most famous poems. It was a common saying in the time period (think caveat emptor) and translates into “It is sweet and right to die for one’s country”. He refers to it as a great lie.

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Stephanie is a tutor who loves helping people improve and excel. She loves a good story, so is obsessed with books, films, TV, and comics. A regular geek with a heart of gold ;)

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