Jeremy Paxman sends his WWI book to 4,000 schools to counter 'anti-war sentiment in teaching'

Broadcaster is marking the centenary of the outbreak of WWI with gift to history teachers

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The Independent Online

‘One nation Tory’ Jeremy Paxman is marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in his own unique way – by sending his history book to over 4,000 secondary schools.

‘We are sending the Head of History in over 4,000 [state and independent] schools a complimentary copy of the book [Great Britain's Great War]” the presenter’s publisher, Penguin, told the Daily Mail.

The former face of Newsnight reportedly hopes to reverse what he sees as far too much emphasis on anti-war poetry and the downplaying of military achievements and courage.

"There is an opportunity for students to understand the First World War as relevant history, but teachers aren’t helped by an over-reliance on the poems of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen," he said.

"Poetry fails to answer the really interesting questions by glorifying the suffering of soldiers in the trenches.

"The big question is why Owen, after writing his anti-war poetry, and Sassoon, after his letter of protest [against the war], decided to go back and fight?


"We need to understand the full picture to see why this war was the defining event in modern British history."

Broadcaster Mr Paxman's book was published last year.

The books synopsis says it explains "why we fought [the war] so enthusiastically, how we endured it so doggedly and how it transformed everything, such as women's suffrage, new surgery techniques, lower-class 'officer gentlemen', a powerful press, sexually transmitted diseases and British Summer Time."

The famously outspoken television personality and journalist recently lamented that Newsnight, which he presented for 25 years, is made by idealistic “13-year-olds” while claiming to have been the last Conservative at the BBC.