Britain Goes to War - How the First World War Began to Reshape the Nation, ed. Peter Liddle

Britain Goes to War - How the First World War Began to Reshape the Nation, ed. Peter Liddle

This book is made up of a series of articles presented to a conference on the First World War held at Weetwood Hall and Conference Centre, Leeds, in 2014. As a result we get a wide range of expertise, and also a wide rang of attitudes to the war.

The book is split in three sections. The first focuses on the early months of the war, looking at a wide range of issues, from the real levels of public support for the war, the levels of voluntary recruitments and how that changed over time, how the military reacted to the unexpected nature of the war and even the origins of the war. Part two looks at a wider time span, and includes articles on civilian internees in Britain and Germany, how sport reacted to the war and even some of the main weapons of the war. Part three is the shortest, and looks at some of the records available for the study of the war, covering family history, the impressive Liddle Collection of First World War materials, and what can be found by looking at a typical city graveyard of the period.

This sort of book can sometimes be rather incoherent, but that isn’t the case here. The articles work together rather well, and cover topics that fit together rather well. Part One feels like a coherent account of the outbreak of war, ending with the first major military encounters between German and British troops. Part Two is less coherent, but still interesting, covering some unusual topics - I’ve never read anything on the internment of British civilians in Germany before, or on the less familiar military animals. Part Three might end up being outdated most quickly, including a look at the uses of the internet for research as it was in 2014 and the current state of the Liddle Collection of First World War Archival Material. The final chapter, which looks at the stories to be found in a typical city cemetery is less likely to date.

Part One
1 - The Origins of the First World War Revisited, Gary Sheffield
2 - British Readiness for War, John Bourne
3 - The Shock of War: How Britain Entered the First World War, Catriona Pennell
4 - The National Response to the Outbreak of War, 1914, Edward M. Spiers
5 - War Readiness in Britain: the Royal Navy, August 1914-January 1915, Dominic Tweddle
6 - True Grit: Officers of the British Expeditionary Force and the Great Retreat, 1914, Spencer Jones
7 - The Raising of the New Armies: Some Further Reflections, Peter Simkins
8 - First Clash of Arms in the West: British and German Soldiers in Action, 1914, Matthew Richardson

Part Two
9 - The Green Howards and Corporal Tom Riordan at the First Battle of Ypres, Roger Chapman
10 - Britons in Berlin: Ruhleben - the Internment of British Civilians, Peter Liddle
11 - The Torment of Captivity: Germans, Austrians and Turks Interned on the Isle of Man, Matthew Richardson
12 - From Cricket Whites to Khaki - Sport and the Great War, Clive Harris
13 - Infantry Weapons of the Great War, John Whitchurch
14 - 'Kettledrums of Death': Some Field Guns and Howitzers of the Great War, Philip Magrath
15 - Silent Soldiers: Animals in the Great War, Paul Skelton-Stroud
16 - New Horizons - A War in the Air, 1914, Nick Forder
17 - The Mobilization and Experience of Nurses in the First World War, Alison S. Fell

Part Three
18 - Tracing Your Family's History in the Great War, Chris  Baker
19 - The Liddle Collection of First World War Archival Materials in the University of Leeds, Peter Liddle
20 - Lawnswood Cemetery in Leeds and the First World War, Andrea Hetherington

Editor: Peter Liddle
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2015

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