The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War
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An intimate narrative history of World War I told through the stories of twenty men and women from around the globe--a powerful, illuminating, heart-rending picture of what the war was really like.
In this masterful book, renowned historian Peter Englund describes this epoch-defining event by weaving together accounts of the average man or woman who experienced it. Drawing on the diaries, journals, and letters of twenty individuals from Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Venezuela, and the United States, Englund’s collection of these varied perspectives describes not a course of events but "a world of feeling." Composed in short chapters that move between the home front and the front lines, The Beauty and Sorrow brings to life these twenty particular people and lets them speak for all who were shaped in some way by the War, but whose voices have remained unheard.
hand and followed not only by his own section but by three or four hundred wounded men, Lobanov-Rostovsky is shocked to realise that they are trapped. The course they are following will eventually lead them up out of the ravine and onto the main highway towards Sandomierz—which is a problem, since there is a German artillery battery nearby and it opens fire on the Russians as soon as they emerge from the ravine. Lobanov-Rostovsky and the others have to hurry back down. Further off, to the right
now, waiting serenely for the promised but never realised French breakthrough.* The mood of shock and surprise that reigned a week ago has, nevertheless, begun to ease and the French army is gathering itself for a counter-attack. But panic is still lying just below the surface. Arnaud explains the situation to the major down in the cellar, telling him they are lost and that he is therefore putting the company at his disposal. The major thanks him. The conversation is then interrupted by a fat
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Democrats voting in favour of war credits.* During the course of the conversation it becomes clear that not even the ministers have any firm grasp on how many soldiers there actually are in the army. This is partly because the higher echelons of the military, who frequently and openly show their scorn for the civilian powers, are notoriously secretive, and partly because registers and rolls are still in disarray after the great mobilisation of the late summer and the colossal losses of the
with the greatest of good cheer and happiness.” The small group passes bed after bed, their bells tinkling. It is as if time becomes extended, stretched, slowed down in D’Aquila’s fevered mind. Time does not count. It’s as though the whole of eternity can be contained in a single moment. The three figures come closer and he does not take his eyes off them. They come to a halt at his bed. The nuns go down on their knees. He is the one who is to die. D’Aquila does not want to, does not intend