If you want to study in some depth the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon there are two books you need: his war poems and volume 1 of the biography by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.p>
Sassoon’s war poems
First, the Rupert Hart-Davis collection of 113 war poems –
Siegfried Sassoon - The War Poems. The poems are dated wherever possible and are presented in chronological order. A convenient timeline of Sassoon’s life in the war years is included. Published by Faber, paperback. £9-99.
Biography of Sassoon
Whilst one of the impressive characteristics of Sassoon’s war poems is their unflinching honesty about his feelings and experiences in the war, his own biographical work of the war period is tedious, guarded, unrevealing and, to my mind, very unsatisfactory. It is far better to read one of the recent biographies of Sassoon.
After a surprisingly long period of time the first full scale biography of Sassoon was published in hardback in 1998. Written by Jean Moorcroft Wilson it came out in two volumes. The one that will matter to most Sassoon war poetry readers is volume 1 which covers the years 1886 to 1918,
Siegfried Sassoon, the making of a war poet, a biography, 1886-1918. It provides insight into Sassoon’s complex character, his very wealthy background and his life, friendships, thoughts and actions including his “wilful defiance of military authority” which resulted in Sassoon being detained in a psychiatric unit in Scotland . 600 pages. Available in paperback. Published by Duckworth £10-99.
Sassoon, Critical study
Siegfried Sassoon: A Study of the War Poetry, by Patrick Campbell Paperback. £33.50.
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Two collections of Edward Thomas's poems with notes.
Edward Thomas Collected Poems. Faber. (Paperback)
Introduction by Peter Sacks with a biographical sketch of the writer and also a critical appreciation of Thomas’s poetry.
There are notes on each of the poems (that include the author's comments), Thomas' war diary and four appendices.
Edward Thomas - The Annotated Collected Poems, Oxford. (Paperback) Edited by Edna Longley.
Extensive commentary on poems with references to Thomas’s letters and notebooks.
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Biography of Edward Thomas
Under Storm's Wing (Paperback) Carcanet.
by Thomas's wife, Helen Thomas, and his daughter, Myfanwy Thomas.
Under Storm's Wing collects all that Helen Thomas (1877-1967) wrote about
the poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917): the celebrated volumes
As It Was and
World Without End, her letters to Edward, and separate memoirs of her
meetings with W.H. Davies, D.H.Lawrence, Ivor Gurney, Eleanor Farjeon,
Robert Frost and W.H.Hudson. The book has been assembled by Myfanwy,
Edward's and Helen's youngest daughter. She includes her own enchanted
account of childhood with her father, and the tragedy of his death at the
Battle of Arras in 1917. She adds an appendix of six letters from Robert
Frost to Edward Thomas.
Helen wrote As It Was, the story of her courtship and early marriage,
shortly after Edward's death, and
World Without End a few years later. In
the original editions and later reprints fictitious names were used for the
protagonists. In this edition the actual names are restored.
The book provides a brilliant, lasting evocation of one of Britain's best-loved poets.
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Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth
is one of the outstanding biographies of the First World War. It tells the
moving story of the heartbreak suffered by one young woman who saw, close-up,
the horrors of the war as she worked in France as a nurse of German and British
soldiers wounded in the war. Her best friend, her fiancé and her brother were
all killed in the war.
At the end of the war she felt that the politicians who had
promoted the war and who signed the peace treaty at the end had betrayed the
trust placed in them by young people who suffered so much.
Vera Brittain's sequel, about the years following the war is Testament of
Vera Brittain DVD
Second World War
Geoffrey Scott Mowat was a Malayan Civil servant who became a volunteer. He survived four years of POW captivity. He dedicated the memorial plot for the Malayan Volunteer forces at the National Memorial Arboretum before he died in 2008. This is his story of life at the hands of the Japanese, his escape and survival.
The Casualties Were Small, by
Wartime Poetry and Diaries of a Lincolnshire Seaside Villager, Chapel St Leonards, near Skegness, 1940-1944, edited by Tom Ambridge and Margaret Ambridge. Illustrated (33 black and white photographs) with index, 117pages, A5 (21.0 x 14.8 cm), high quality paperback. (Ambridge Books, 2009, £8.99) Contact Ambridge Books for further information or to purchase.
Three of May Hill's poems may be seen on this
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Palestine Peace Not Apartheid - Jimmy Carter
In this book Jimmy Carter (former President of the United States) argues that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East."
See him talking about the issues and this book.
Link to book on Amazon
How was a country that was supposed to threaten the very existence of western civilisation overcome in so few days in 2003? This book explains how Iraq had been economically and militarily crushed by western powers before that invasion.
Carefully researched and authenticated account of the abuse and destruction of Iraq through UN sanctions( which flouted the basic principles of the UN) and the relentless and rarely publicised bombing of Iraq over the years prior to the Iraq War -- actions that were condemned by many high ranking UN officials, distinguished commentators and even the Pope.
An impressive, highly readable, and profoundly important book. About £12-00.
The Hurt Locker.
The war in Iraq. Portrayal of US elite soldiers who disarm bombs in the heat of combat. The film has won numerous awards including Best Film and Best Director awards at the BAFTA's 2010. Also 2009 Directors Guild of America Award to the film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film. Plus 6 Oscars, 2010. - Nevertheless some who have seen this film think it is just a superficial view of war celebrating crazy violence.
Blu-ray. The Hurt Locker.
The war in Iraq. Portrayal of US elite soldiers who disarm bombs in the heat of combat. The film has won numerous awards including Best Film and Best Director awards at the BAFTA's 2010. Also 2009 Directors Guild of America Award to the film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film. Plus 6 Oscars, 2010. But see above comment.
is Michael Moore's brilliant investigation into George Bush, his disastrous and immoral foreign policies and the invasion of Iraq. With interviews, documentary footage they would never show on our supposedly free media, and humour too. Riveting, moving, entertaining, and above all truthful and important. Everyone interested in the Iraq War issue should see this double DVD.
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The cost of the war in Iraq
The Three Trillion Dollar War
by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes
Published by W. W. Norton (USA) 2008 Hardback. 192 pages
Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize for Economics in2001 and was Chief Economic Advisor the World Bank. Linda Bilmes is a professor at Harvard where she specialises in public policy, budgeting and public finance.
The book examines the full cost of the Iraq War, including many hidden costs such as the enormous expenditures that will be required to care for very large numbers of wounded veterans.
Numerous US government studies including that of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office have suggested costs approaching those estimated by these authors.
Available in paperback and hardback.
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Books for writers of war poetry - Links below details
Penguin Rhyming Dictionary. A really useful tool for all poets and lyricists with rhymes for over 40,000 words. Paperback.
Penguin Thesaurus. When you can't find the exact word you want this book will suggest alternatives to the word you have thought of. In fact there are over 400,000 suggestions here, mainly standard English, but also jargon, slang and colloquial expressions. Over 660 large format pages. A bargain even at full price. Paperback.
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After the Second World War the US and UK were leaders in the establishment of international laws to prevent wars of aggression and to protect human rights. Unfortunately both countries have blatantly set aside international laws and subverted the United Nations to condone acts of aggression. I recommend two books (plus Behind the War on Terror, mentioned above) for insights into this topic.
Killing Hope - US and CIA Interventions since World War II
by William Blum. This gives, in considerable detail and from publicly available records, an account of the US Governments' behaviour around the world from China and North Korea in the 1940s to the bombing of Iraq in 2003.
"Far and away the best book on the topic" - Noam Chomsky.
"I am impressed. It is a valuable contribution." - Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States.
"A very valuable book. . . extremely impressive." - AJ Langguth, former New York Times bureau chief.
Lawless World - America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules by Philippe Sands.
This account of the abuse of international law by the US under George Bush and the UK under Tony Blair is by a leading international lawyer. A richly informative, revealing and passionate book describing both the failings of international law, its successes and the profound need for it.
Web of Deceit by Mark CurtisThis book details the true story of Britain's shameful role in world affairs and parallels to some extent the book by William Blum on US foreign policy (mentioned previously). Above all it is a story of hypocrisy and misrepresentation with successive UK governments telling the British people and the world how keen they are to support international law and the United Nations whilst very often doing exactly the opposite.
One measure of this opposition to the UN is the number of occasions it has gone against the general will of the UN Security Council by using its power to veto decisions. Mark Curtis comments, "Open defiance of the UN is a permanent feature of British foreign policy. In the last twenty-five years of the cold war, 1965-19990, Britain cast twice as many vetoes in the Security Council as the Soviet Union - twenty-seven compared to thirteen, mainly to support the racist regimes in south Africa and Rhodesia." (P 10.)
Comment on Web of Deceit
"Scrupulously, relentlessly . . . rescues the historical and documentary record from a web of distortion and self-serving illusion." - Noam Chomsky.
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David Roberts, Editor, The War Poetry Website.
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