"Paxman is witty, incisive, acerbic and opinionated... In short, he carries the whole thing off with panache bordering on effrontery" (Sunday Times)
"He writes with wit and penetration, and every page can be read with relaxed pleasure" (Spectator)
Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of Jeremy Paxman's Great Britain's Great War.
Read by the actor Roy McMillan, this magnificent history of the First World War tells the story of the war in one gripping narrative from the point of view of the British people. We may think we know about it, but what was life really like for the British people during the First World War? The well-known images - the pointing finger of Lord Kitchener; a Tommy buried in the mud of the Western Front; the memorial poppies of remembrance day - all reinforce the idea that it was a pointless waste of life. So why did the British fight it so willingly and how did the country endure it for so long?
Using a wealth of first-hand source material, Jeremy Paxman brings vividly to life the day-to-day experience of the British over the entire course of the war, from politicians, newspapermen, campaigners and Generals, to Tommies, factory workers, nurses, wives and children, capturing the whole mood and morale of the nation.
It reveals that life and identity in Britain were often dramatically different from our own, and show how both were utterly transformed - not always for the worst - by the enormous upheaval of the war. Rich with personalities, surprises and ironies, this lively narrative history paints a picture of courage and confusion, doubts and dilemmas, and is written with Jeremy Paxman's characteristic flair for storytelling, wry humour and pithy observation.
Jeremy Paxman is a renowned broadcaster, award-winning journalist and the bestselling author of seven works of non-fiction, including The English, The Political Animal and Empire.
©2013 Jeremy Paxman (P)2013 Penguin Books Limited
"A subject that needs more thought that remembrance"
This conflict seems so far away from our world, so disconnected from our present life, we think of the trenches and their awful conditions, stagnating men for years in immovable frontlines lines, the mud, the tunneling, blind men leading blind men out of trenches, men charging by the thousands into deaths arms. We are encouraged to remember, but not given much of a perspective as to why it occurred or how it concern us the great grandchildren of that period. This book present us with a reportage of those events and many conclusions and explanations of where things fit in this story and how they are still relevant to our period.
This is the first war to use air forces, tank divisions, chlorine gas, mustard gas, submarines to sink civilian ships, and air raids on civilians, mass propaganda to recruit and miss inform, this was the first industrial war, with industrial death. Presenting us with the consequences of modern technology and war unleashed on humanity frailty.
It is the point where women begin to be integrated into the workforce, giving them a real political place in society. The place in time where the old class system is chartered
These are the first inroads and seedings of the of future conflicts like the second world war, the cold war, and our current middle east conflicts and wars.
Jeremy Paxman reports from within the time and period about the people of britain their concerns, beliefs, fears, and tribulations; he presents a picture that is history at street level, not from an ivory tower. He tries to capture the mood of a nation through the war and present us with concise analysis of the events, not just political but of a broad spectrum of social concerns.
A very good read of a subject that needs more thought that remembrance.
"Highly accessible social history of the Great War"
Paxman is an astute social historian, he writes with an easy, wry and consistent voice. He is very well served by Roy MacMillan, whose reading is nuanced and engaging. Excellent listen.
"Brilliant, fascinating, sad"
This was interesting and riveting all the way through. I learned a great deal about the war, the tactics, the realities for the soldiers. It certainly provided a different vision of the war than the one we teach.
Narration was good, nice soft voice
"Well read and well researched"
Enlightening and moving
Both my grandfathers served and survived in that war and to be honest I had no idea what they had gone through, if nothing else Paxman's book certainly clarified that with descriptions of trench life and death. The social comment on that period of time is fascinating a very different world of duty to King and country compared to now. The book also deals with life after the war and the very different place Britain and her empire had become. There does not seem to be much doubt in Paxman's mind this war is the beginning of the end of the British Empire and perhaps the UK itself. I found this an excellent book and will probably revisit again.
"Sad, Funny and Enlightening"
Best so far. Knew my preference was non fictional and this wonderful book reminded me why.Extremely well written by JP and and brought to life by the man himself (with a little help from the excellent Roy McMillan).
The marvellous collection of anecdotes, memories and sub stories.
They quite simply brought it all to life for me.
A real mixture of emotions leapt from this book. Really, really funny but terribly saddening as well.
I dreamt of my granddad, a Great War soldier and a wit in his day, throughout listening to this book.
I realised and recognised his (and many many others) bravery and commitment to the cause.
This is not a war book in the sense that others might think. It is a thousand times better for the 'inside stories' and astounding research that JP has weaved into this brilliant book.A great read (listen).
"Excellent book excellent narration"
Very straight forward and easy follow guide to ww1. The narrator does well to keep the pace and is expressive in all the right places. Paxman's writing is clear and not dogged down with too much trivial information. If you want a book to tell you about all aspects of the First World War then look no further.
"Not What You Might Expect"
Provoking, Detailed, Unexpected
It is impossible to pick out one memorable moment from this book which covers such momentous events. But it is the mixture of recounting personal stories alongside the narrative of great events that this account of the Great War distinct for me.
This is not the sort of book that you can listen to all the way through -- there was many a time when I stopped the recording to go back over something for a second or more time. The writing provokes one to think of things as they occur to you and before you know it the narrative has moved on. But you are rewarded by going back and re-listening to the account of events and by pausing from time to time to take it all in.
I got this book because I missed the television programme and in a way I'm glad I did. Previous ideas about World War I were challenged by this account and I think rightly so.
"Made me cry"
Up in the top three
Easy listerning at the right level
I went on tour of trenches and the cemeteries and was emotionally moved I finished the book when I got back from Belguim and it made me cry no one around so it was fine.
"A good book about a Great War"
Yes. The easily digestible journalistic prose makes it easy to listen to in long chunks. Paxman has managed to debunk numerous myths about this turning point in British history while supplying a host of human interest stories from the time.
Each chapter was memorable but the introduction stands out most because Paxman himself reads it. I can see how time constraints may have prevented the author from narrating the entire book. McMillan gives a commendable, professional voice to the text but let's face it, when you're listening to a celebrity tome, you want the celebrity to deliver it.
Both have excellent narrator's voices. McMillan supplies a variety of accents to quotations without sounding like a cliche or parody.
Yes, let's have a similar study of WWII.
This is usually a book that I'd read in order to additionally access tables, photos and bibliography. I wonder if such a tie-in might be considered by the publishers in the future? Paxman is a trained journalist and has thus written a journalistic survey of aspects of this complicated event. It's not clear what his methodology is. Where did he get his material from and what material did he leave out? Has he uncovered previously unreleased material? These questions might not have been asked after reading the work of a professional historian. Also, as for Paxman's thesis of writing a sympathetic understanding of Britain's greatest folly, I'm not sure if this has been achieved. I finished the book sympathetic for those who suffered in the conflict but unable to sympathise with a nation and a people with such a hubristic and elevated opinion of itself, as Britain clearly had at the time. But as Paxman says at the end, it took this war to hammer this fact home.
"Paxman in a new light"
Although more of a documentary than the usual fiction I enjoy, Jeremy Paxman puts a new slant, albeit anti-war on this conflict. Definitely one to listen to again to cement all the data. In my top five audios.
Can only be the author, Kitchener and French don't deserve any credit.
No comparison, one the author, though the introduction set the tone for the book, the other the reader, first class.
Many of the facts are well known and historically recorded, yet Jeremy Paxman has unearthed many lesser known facts that makes this tragic war come to life even more. There is no question that this splendid book is anti First World War, yet the depth of information leaves the listener wondering what comes next.
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