For those living in the US, the Great War is something that we generally skim over in history class- we generally focus on WWII. For those living in Western Europe, it’s a very different story. You study WWI for years at a time, at least you do in England, and if you’ve studied it in the last 15 years, you’ve probably gone on field trips to the battlefields. You’ve stood in the trenches, in crater holes blasted out by bombs and seen the remnant shells stacked up along farmers’ fields- those shells that were never cleared away after the end of the war. At least that’s my experience of studying the war. You almost fell guilty for not doing your part even though it happened decades before you were born.
There are reminders of the sacrifices made during that time all over Europe, intertwined with the memories of WWII. It’s a part of the land and something that you can’t ignore. There really isn’t anything to compare it with in the US – even Civil War battle grounds aren’t the same.
I found this video a few months ago and in the end, bought the book for my dad as a Father’s Day gift:
Most of my studies have come from books, some from old newsreels etc. but this book gives the Battle of the Somme a whole new light. It makes it into something visual and puts across the magnitude much better than any other source that I’ve seen. It actually gives the numbers a human element and not just statistics on the page. This beautiful book is art and fact all combined into one and I love it for that.
I don’t see this book as being about tragedy, although it does encompass that. I see it as a chance to truly understand something that is beyond our reality and to take in something that is one of the largest world conflicts in history.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words.