Has it really been a year since I started this folly? Wasn’t this war supposed to be finished by Christmas?
One year and 90 posts on Great War 100 Reads have documented 31 books read and reviewed (33 if you count reading three versions of one book), 53 memorials, some interviews and random musings. Friends and family know the answer to “What are you reading these days.” They have become accustomed to unusual routes and detours to seek out monuments wherever we go.
Thanks to your suggestions, the reading list continues to grow. It’s a safe bet that I will not get through every book on the list by the end of this journey in November 2018. I should surpass the goal of 100 books.
I present this quest as “Mostly fiction. Some memoirs, diaries and non-fiction mixed in.” Yet in the first year, non-fiction edged out novels. Why? I travelled down a trail of books to learn about war memorials and war art, to put the Monday Monuments and Memorials feature in context. And the memoirs and biographies of courageous women are infectious reading. I’m getting to the novels.
While it is not always evident, there is an attempt at some logic to the order of my reads. I try to group two or three books together on a particular theme—soldiers on the Western front, espionage, nursing, civilians near the war zone, on the home front—you get the picture. The plan can be thwarted by the availability of a given book at the library. But I bring it back on track as soon as possible, to make a more cohesive path through this expedition.
The authors approached for interviews have been generous with their time and thoughtful with their replies. The interviews are a popular feature on the blog … especially for me, as they add an interesting dimension to the book reviews.
By far the biggest delight is those of you who follow this madness. Thank you for your engagement, your support and your comments on and offline.
If there is one sweeping lesson to date, it’s that war is not limited to a military view. Soldiers and manoeuvres are important, but so are support jobs behind the lines and civilian roles near and far from the battlefields. Those with no direct involvement in the war may nonetheless have additional responsibilities because of others directly participating. These are all theatres of war. Everyone serves and everything is touched in some way. All merit our remembrance.
Oh! Oh! Oh! it’s a lovely war,
Who wouldn’t be a soldier eh?
Oh! It’s a shame to take the pay.
As soon as “reveille” is gone
We feel just as heavy as lead,
But we never get up till the sergeant brings
Our breakfast up to bed.
Oh! Oh! Oh! it’s a lovely war
What do we want with eggs and ham
When we’ve got plum and apple jam?
Form fours! Right turn!
How shall we spend the money we earn?
Oh! Oh! Oh! it’s a lovely war.
Courtland and Jeffries, © 1917, B. Feldman and Co. Ltd, London