Of the six million men who served in the British army, nearly one million lost their lives and over two million were wounded. This is the story of these men – epitomised by the character of Sgt Tommy Atkins – and the women they left behind. Using previously unseen letters, diaries, memoirs and poetry from the years 1914-1918, Richard Holmes paints a moving picture of the generation that fought and died in the mud of Flanders. He follows men whose mental health was forever destroyed by shell shock, women who lost husbands and brothers in the same afternoon and those who wrote at lunchtime and died before tea. Groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed, this book tells the real story of trench warfare, the strength and fallibility of the human spirit, the individuals behind an epic event, and their legacy. It is an emotional and unforgettable masterpiece from one of our most important historians.
Reviews of Tommy
‘Holmes is one of our foremost military scholars and a skilled writer who knows his audience well. This is excellent popular history: scholarly, highly readable and utterly absorbing.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Monumental … Every page of this is worth reading.’ Time Out
‘Where Holmes’s book comes brilliantly to life is in his use of first-hand accounts of the trench experience … It is Holmes’s achievement to make this familiar landscape come alive with the humanity of those who fought in it.’ TLS
‘Holmes has produced yet another fascinating, balanced and original book of a highly emotive subject. ‘ Sunday Telegraph