Friday, February 28, 2014

World War I: The Great War

This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I. World War I officially began on July 28, 1914, after Austria-Hungary began its invasion of Serbia, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand the month before. Germany, Austria's ally, soon invaded neutral Belgium on the march to begin attacking France, causing Great Britain to declare war on Germany. Many countries had created military and political alliances with other countries throughout Europe, and now these countries were forced to side along those alliances. Great Britain fought with France, Belgium, and Russia, while Germany was aligned with Austria-Hungary. The United States tried to remain neutral throughout the war, but many factors, including a German submarine's sinking of the Lusitania and the Laconia, brought the United States into the war on April 6, 1917. No one could predict the devastation that the war would cause, as there had never been a war fought with machine guns, tanks, and mustard gas. It is estimated that the war cost $332 billion and over 16 million lives.

The following list are 10 fiction books and series about World War I. Hopefully, these books can help you get a feel for what life was like for both those who fought in the war, those who worked to save their lives, and those who supported them back home.

The Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road) by Pat Barker    

Soldiers from World War I are suffering from what they called "shell-shock," what we now call "PTSD," or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are brought to the Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment and treated by Dr. William Rivers. Dr. Rivers believes that he can help these soldiers, but he also wonders whether he should, as they will be sent back to the front to fight once he does. Barker looks at the effects of war, and its consequences on the minds of those who are fighting in it from the view of a man who worked with these soldiers and believed that his "regeneration" experiments would work.

The Cartographer of No Man's Land  by P. S. Duffy    

When Angus McGrath's brother-in-law, Ebbin, goes missing, Angus is determined to go and find out what
happened to him. So he enlists in the army (they are from Nova Scotia), with the promise that he will receive a safe cartographer's job in London, and he decides he will look in to what happened to Ebbin the rest of the time. However, Angus finds himself on the front lines in France, instead. While Angus is at war, his son, Simon Peter, is trying to figure out what to think about the war and how it affects everyone around him.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway    

Ernest Hemingway volunteered for the ambulance service for the Red Cross in Italy during World War I, and this book is one that he wrote that is semi-autobiographical. Like Hemingway, his character, Lieutenant Frederic Henry, volunteered to work in the ambulance service in Italy. It is in Henry's experiences that you can see the war not just from the fighting side, but from the side of the volunteers, as they faced similar situations to those men fighting in the war. There is also a love story between Henry and Catherine, a nurse.

The World War One Series (No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, We Shall Not Sleep) by Anne Perry

The series begins with the events that started World War I going in the background and three murders having to do with the British secret service at the forefront. Matthew Reavley is a member of the British secret service, and with his brother, Joseph, he tries to find out who killed their parents and one of Joseph's students. They also look into how these deaths intersect with the unrest leading up to the beginning of the war. As the series progresses, Matthew works behind the scenes in England, looking for the suspicious "Peacemaker," who seems to be undermining the support for the war, while Joseph works in the trenches as a chaplain (solving murders as he goes along). Their sister, Judith, is an ambulance driver, who assists Joseph in his crime solving (and even solves some of her own).

The Wings of Morning by Murray Pura

Jude Whetstone and Lyyndaya Kurtz are both from converted Amish families, and they have developed feelings for one another. Jude's obsession with the new airplane gets in their way, when Lyyndaya's parents object to him flying (even though the Amish had not forbidden the use of the airplane at the time). When the
United States enters the war in 1917, Jude is exempt from military service due to his religious convictions. However, he is manipulated into enlisting in the war to fly planes (to save the other Amish men imprisoned with him based on their convictions), and then he is shunned by the community for his enlistment. Lynndaya worries about him, as she is tending to patients sick with the Spanish Influenza, and she hopes that his shunning will end. This is a completely different look at the war, from the viewpoint of a group of people who completely oppose war.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque            

Paul BaĆ¼mer is just 19 years old when he and his fellow classmates enlist in the German army at the beginning  of World War I, but no one expects the carnage and suffering that will take place in the trenches.  As the war drags on, many of these young soldiers wonder whether they can survive the conflict, and if they do they, whether they will ever be the same again. All Quiet on the Western Front is a look at the war from the "other" side (the German) of the conflict. Even though they were the opposing side in the war, many can see a similarity in the ways the German soldiers viewed the war and the devastation that came with it.   

The Innocents by Caroline Seebohm

Identical twin sisters, Dorothea and Iris Crosby, grow up in a more priviledged lifestyle in New York City's Park Avenue. Both girls are very sheltered from the difficult things that are going on around them. That changes with the devastation of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the news of a war beginning in Europe. Dorothea and Iris decide to volunteer with the American Red Cross in France, and they soon arrive on the front lines to tend to the wounded. As the carnage goes on around them. they become even closer to each other, and they both wonder if they will ever be so "innocent" again.

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara

Jeff Shaara writes about the United States' part in the conflict of World War I from the perspectives of acutal historical figures that fought in it. General John "Black Jack" Pershing leads the American forces in France, dealing with this new method of warfare in the trenches. Shaara also looks at the beginning of aircraft fighting in the war, between American pilot, Raoul Lufbery, and the famous "Red Baron," Manfred von Richtofen. He also looks at the Marines part in the war with the perspective of Private Roscoe Temple.

My Enemy, My Love by Robert Tyler Stevens

Before the war began and they became enemies, James William Fraser and Sophie von Korvacs fell in love. James was teaching art at a school for foreign children, while Sophie was from a titled family. An accident between a car and his carriage lead to their meeting. The death of the Archduke is a shock for the von Korvacs, but they do not understand the bigger consequences of his death. James worries what kind of life he can give Sophie. However, with the beginning of the war, James is now an enemy of Austria and goes off to fight for the Allies. Sophie, Baroness von Korvacs watches her world fall apart around her in Vienna, and she believes that she might never forgive James for what his country did to hers, even as she loves him still.

Bess Crawford Series (A Duty to the Dead, An Impartial Witness, A Bitter Truth, An Unmarked Grave, and A Question of Honor) by Charles Todd

Following in her soldier father's footsteps, Bess Crawford volunteers to aid in the war effort as a nurse. As she faces the devastation going on around her, Bess stumbles upon other kinds of crimes that she helps solve, although most of the crimes happen (or happened) on British soil.

To learn more about World War I, look in the Non-Fiction under 940.3 for titles such as:

The First World War: A Concise Global History by Jon Glover
940.3 GLOVER


The Great War: A Photographic Narrative  by Mark Holborn
940.30222 HOLBORN

To find more World War I fiction, check out the bibliography by the catalog computers or online here


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