October Online ebook club Wrap-up – Tommy’s War

Tommy's WarIn the spirit of keeping it real (our reader’s season theme), our October online ebook club selection was Tommy’s War by Richard van Emden. This book tells the stories of the front-line soldiers in World War I via images, journal entries and letters. If you’re looking for a book about the history of WWI, this isn’t for you. It is made up almost entirely of soldier’s war accounts with very factual information. If, however, you’d prefer to read about the people behind the facts and figures, then this is recommended. The stories and photographs portray many aspects of the soldier’s life during this war including the exhaustion and anticipation felt in the trenches, what it was like to go over the top and the growing resentment of some of the soldiers as the reality of war sinks in.

I found this to be a really good portrayal of life in the trenches. While it was not a formal history book it still presented historically important information about the war. I found it very sad to read of the utter exhaustion the soldier’s felt. One man said he ‘wanted to die’ and many considered it lucky to be shot in the leg as it would keep them off the front line. Some of the saddest letters and diaries came from those that were later to die in the war. It was very difficult to read these as I’d feel a  connection with the soldier and then find that he did not survive the war. One of the more surprising aspects of the book was how calm many felt about the idea of death. It is clear that most had assumed they were going to die out there and it was the anticipation of when that was the difficult part.

While I think this was a good representation of the soldier’s war I wanted to see more letters and diaries. I’d also like to compare it to the Australian soldier’s perspective on the same battlefield. If anyone has any recommendations of any similar Australian reads please feel free to share them.

So what did you think of this month’s book?
Did you learn anything new from the stories?

Please let me know in the comments.