Intimate Voices From the First World War

Intimate Voices From the First World War

Book - 2003
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"One day I was walking with my friend Lazar Djukic, and I remarked that Ferdinand was coming soon [and] that it would be nice to prepare a warm welcome for him. In our language that meant assassination... Lazo simply said, -It can be done if someone wants it.' Up to that point the conversation was a bit of a joke but now my mind was set. All I needed was a gun."

--from the prison diary of Vaso Cubrilovic, a member of a group of Serbian assassins who succeeded in killing Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, sparking WWI

How do you tell the history of a war in which over nine million combatants and five million civilians from 28 countries died by bullet, fire, hunger, and disease? How to describe the scale of an event that ignited two revolutions, toppled four monarchies, decimated a generation and culminated in political changes that cast shadows to this day?

Departing radically from traditional histories, Intimate Voices from the First World War tells the story of WWI on a personal and human scale. Through the private letters and diaries of soldiers, children, teens, wives, lovers, doctors, survivors, and victims --accounts unearthed during research for a worldwide 10-part television series--a compelling narrative takes shape that follows the war from beginning to end.

Each chapter illuminates a crucial episode of WWI from multiple viewpoints. A starving Polish woman and a disgruntled Austrian officer tell of a long and brutal siege. Two Colonial soldiers--one Canadian and one African--send candid dispatches home from the Western Front. Two children--one German, one French-- live through the horrors of occupation, both in adolescent angst. The voices of a German school girl, an American nurse, a black South African laborer, and soldiers from every nation rise to form a chorus of compassion, hatred, hope, and grief. The result is a searingly honest and intimate look at "the war to end all wars."

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2003
ISBN: 9780002007795
Characteristics: xviii, 381 p. : ill., maps
Additional Contributors: Palmer, Svetlana
Wallis, Sarah


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