The First World War in Photographs, By Richard Holmes, book review


It was the war to end all wars, a conflict without precedent in which millions died and millions more were injured. The First World War was also one of the first wars from which we have a comprehensive photographic record.

This book, reissued to coincide with the centenary of the start of the conflict, presents it in all its appalling and intensely moving detail – covering all the great battles and theatres of operations, from the mud of Flanders to the beaches of Gallipoli. The photographs capture the patriotism and innocence of the men and women who volunteered for their countries, the reality of trench warfare on the Western Front, the sea battles in oceans around the globe, the terror of gas and mechanized weaponry, and the ultimate sacrifice of a generation.

Richard Holmes was one of Britain’s most successful historians. Author of the best-selling Tommy, Redcoat and Wellington: The Iron Duke, he also wrote and presented television series for the BBC. As well as serving in the TA, he taught military history at Sandhurst, Cranfield University, and the Royal Military College of Science. He died in April 2011, aged 65.