I’m looking to hear about any books (fiction or nonfiction) and movies about WWI I may not have come across before. The lists Wikipedia had are woefully short, and I can name at least two fictional WWI vets not included in that list right off the top of my head. I’m hoping for things focusing on during and/or after the war, not before/leading up to it, and when it comes to nonfiction I’d like to see things focusing at least somewhat on an individual or a handful of people rather than the whole grand scale. That said, do include whatever you please, even if it focuses only on the overall thing or only on before the war.
The Lighthorsemen - British involvement in Palestine. Movie.
The best book on World War I is The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne. It’s been around a long time, but few have surpassed it.
Another good book on a more obscure aspect of the war: The Bastard War: The Mesopotamiam Campaign of 1914-1918 by A. J. Barker. An obscure backwater of the war, with mind boggling incompetence on the part of the commander.
There’s also Guerilla: Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck and Germany’s East African Empire.. Another obscure backwater, but in this case, the commander was a military genius.
I recommended this in another thread not long ago: Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel (In Stahlgewittern). It is an absolutely amazing book.
yes, you have probably come across it - but you have seen “Paths of Glory”? I keep recommending it to the high school teachers & kids, but so far no takers. I think it is falling into obscurity, unless you are a film buff. which is tragic.
John Masters’ Loss of Eden trilogy: Now, God be Thanked, Heart of War, and By the Green of the Spring covers the whole war period through the experiences of various members of several British families of differing social status.
Derek Robinson’s Goshawk Squadron is a grimly humorous look at the air fighting towards the end of the War.
John Harris’ Covenant With Death tells the story of a fictional Kitchener battalion from raising to training to destruction on the Somme.
The First Hundred Thousand by Ian Hay is an account of his real life experiences with such a battalion, with names changed. The Kitchener battalions were classified into “hundred thousands”,; the first hundred thousand (K1) were the first hundred thousand to be recruited.
Beside this excellent recommendation, I’d add La Grande Illusion, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Big Parade and A Very Long Engagement.
Technically, Lawrence of Arabia and The African Queen would qualify too.
Well, if I may be so bold, I wrote a biography of Vernon Castle, who became an aviator, was decorated, and later killed in a training flight after two years at the front (including the Somme). The whole book is not about the war, but there are some sizable sections about life at the front and the early days of fighter pilots, much taken from his own letters: http://www.amazon.com/Vernon-Irene-Castles-Ragtime-Revolution/dp/081312459X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332892608&sr=1-1
For movies, you may want to track down Oh, What a Lovely War!, a terrific antiwar satirical musical.
Note to Blackadder fans: I just discovered one of the songs used in the musical (all from the actual WWI era) was titled “Goodbye-ee”
I remember as a young teenager thinking that The African Queen was about World War II and calling the germans Nazis until my Mom corrected me.
I second this. Outstanding movie. Also see* Gallipoli*, and All Quiet on the Western Front (both the book and the movie for the latter).
One of the best books I’ve read about the war is The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. But it only covers the first few weeks of it – the advance through Belgium, the desperate defense of Paris, and the settling in to what would end up being relatively stagnant trench warfare.
I just finished Under Fire by Henri Barbusse, a fantastic portrayal of life for a French infantryman.
I’d also thoroughly recommend Goodbye To All That, Robert Graves’ autobiography that is chiefly concerned with his experiences as a British officer.
Here’s my Goodreads Great War Bookshelf.
If you’re looking for a novel you can’t go wrong with The Regeneration Trilogy, by Pat Barker, Flanders, by Patricia Anthony, Soldier of the Great War, by Mark Helprin, or Losing Julia, by Jonathan Hull.
As a point of recommendation, a friend of mine who is a WWI buff said upon watching the first 15 seconds of this movie, “*That *is the most realistic depiction of the trenches I have ever seen.”
And then there’s Wooden Crosses a.k.a. Les Croix de bois, from 1932.
When first shown on French TV in the 70’s, it supposedly drove a WWI veteran to suicide - that’s how grim it is.
And both John Ford and Howard Hawks stole/borrowed a bunch of footage from the battle sequences and inserted it into their own films. High praise indeed.
I found Birdsong to be a compelling read. The description of life in the trenches was absolutely harrowing.
Maybe something of an antidote to *Oh! What a Lovely War *and Blackadder, *Bloody Red Tabs*by Frank Davies and Graham Maddocks that goes through the 200 or so British Generals who were killed or wounded during the war.
I love that song, have it on my iPod and will be humming it all day, now.
Wipe the tear, baby dear, from your eyeee . . .
I don’t know who you noticed as missing from the list in question, but I’ll mention The Secret Adversary – which starts off with action on the Lusitania, and then promptly jump-cuts ahead to demobbed WWI veteran Tommy Beresford looking for work, and bumping into a number of folks he knew during the war, and thereby getting hired to locate the classified documents that (a) apparently didn’t go down with the ship, and (b) could, even at this late date, stir up a lot of trouble for government officials who were exceeding their wartime authority.