2012: 28. The Beauty And the Sorrow

 "The famous American war correspondent Stanley Washburn was invited in 1915 to contribute to The Times History of the War."

The Beauty and the Sorrow, Peter Englund

       This book was an absolute treat - well, as much as a book about one of the great tragedies of the 20th century can be considered a treat.  What I mean is, I enjoyed it so much.  It's a history of World War 1 (so, of course, squarely in my wheelhouse), but rather than being a history battles, or events, or even culture, it's a history of people.  It's the story of the war told through twenty different people who lived through it (or, sigh, didn't), and, as such, it personalizes the war and its details in a way that felt really fresh - especially because so little of it is focused on the trenches.  What I found absolutely fascinating, and eye opening (though it shouldn't have been, if I'd really thought about it), was how much of the book focused on the areas of war that weren't the Western Front. I'm so used to thinking about WWII as a global war, but, they wouldn't have called it a world war if it hadn't been fought everywhere.  Serbia, Russia, Italy, Gallipoli, Africa.  Similarly, the book doesn't focus on British solidiers (and the ladies they left behind), but covers characters from American nurses in Russia to Venezualan adventurers in Serbia.  You can't read this book as a HISTORY of the war - there isn't that broad scope, because it's not a history - its a story of life as lived, and we don't see the big picture while we're living it.  But it's just invaluable to try to give you a sense of what it was like to live through the Great War.

Categories:  Non-Fiction, Library Book 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017