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John Kettler

Attention WW I Buffs! Military History Book Treasure Trove Found!

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Wanted to let you know I was raiding and pillaging in Amazon's Kindle military history section when I discovered there are DOZENS of WW I books there for FREE. More than enough to keep you busy for months, if not years. Lots of personal accounts, unit histories, official histories (Gallipoli, anyone?) and much more. As something of a lark I picked up Now It Can Be Told, by Philip Gibbs, and it looks to be first rate. Other goodies for the period can be had for a song, too. Thought you'd like to know.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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Having finished some 17 chapters in it, I can emphatically state Now It Can Be Told is a simply phenomenal book; a must read not just for WW I grogs or military history buffs, either, but for anyone with any interest at all in the human condition. I've read hundreds and hundreds of accounts of war, but I've never seen anything like this.

 

The author covered the war from before war correspondents were even officially allowed, knew everyone from the top commanders on down to some poor bloke just arrived in the trenches in the early days and knows nothing of the ways of war. Before his very eyes, he saw the professionals of the Regular Army wiped out, to be replaced with the New Army raised by Kitchener.

 

He talks about the sublimely ignorant keenness of the young men to get into battle, the generation annihilating losses, the pluses and minuses of the generals, who generally unimaginatively plot battles which do little than exsanguinate and rend asunder the British troops involved. He talks about those who actually do have brains, use them creatively and, when given rein by higher, actually accomplish something without wiping out the men wholesale in the doing.

 

He addresses the British Army's early lack of heavy artillery, MGs and the training to use them well (in the face of the Germans who invariably had the observational advantage) and what Regular Army rifle marksmanship did to the Germans at an open fire range of 800 yards (Mons, where the Germans thought they were being machine gunned). He rails at the British Government's and the Army's lack of understanding of the role and value of the press; he portrays the ins and outs of combat journalism and the mental dislocations occasioned by shuttling daily, by car no less, from a comfortable shared house where he and his fellows waged ceaseless combat to meet article deadlines to the squalor and terror of a frontline in which the ramparts are partially constructed of corpses, then back home again.

 

He details the immense frustration and, sometimes, guilty feelings of the REMFs going nuts because, try as they might to get to the front, they're needed in the rear to do logistics, push paper, conduct training and perform a thousand and one noncombat tasks necessary to arm, feed and support the relative handful (despite its apparent immensity) doing the fighting.  

 

Philip Gibbs is nothing short of a brilliant writer, and I'm of firm opinion that his book should be mandatory in Literature classes, for it is a masterwork in how to write beautifully, economically, effectively and with staggering emotional power. Moved me to the verge of tears repeatedly! 

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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Having finished some 17 chapters in it, I can emphatically state Now It Can Be Told is a simply phenomenal book; a must read not just for WW I grogs or military history buffs, either, but for anyone with any interest at all in the human condition. I've read hundreds and hundreds of accounts of war, but I've never seen anything like this.

 

<snipped>

 

Philip Gibbs is nothing short of a brilliant writer, and I'm of firm opinion that his book should be mandatory in Literature classes, for it is a masterwork in how to write beautifully, economically, effectively and with staggering emotional power. Moved me to the verge of tears repeatedly! 

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

 

High praise indeed.  Thank you for recommending.

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Badger73,

 

You're most welcome. Being just past the halfway mark, I find a certain anxiety building over what to read next that can possibly top this reading experience. Should you essay the book, you are in for a tremendous experience and quite the grog fest.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

 

P.S.

 

After or during reading it, you may wish to repair to the other grog. The kind formerly served out by the Royal Navy. 

Edited by John Kettler

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