The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War, By Peter Englund
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and is currently judging the Aesthetica Magazine new writing prize.
Saturday 01 September 2012
Englund lays out his perameters at the outset. This, he states, is a book not about how the Great War was but "what it was like."
What proceeds is far more radical, and emotional, than it sounds: lived history that makes no pretence at objectivity in which the reader follows 20 people, as disparate as a 12-year-old German schoolgirl and a Venezuelan cavalryman, from outbreak to end, tracing the small triumphs and quiet horrors of these extraordinary, ordinary people.
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