Kitchener Wants You

The Man, the Poster, and the Legacy

By Martyn Thatcher & Anthony Quinn

Uniform Press, 2016

KitchenerThe Kitchener ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster is arguably one of the most recognisable pieces of war propaganda of the Twentieth Century, despite not being an official Parliamentary Recruiting Committee commission. This bitesize book gives some insight into the origins and legacy of the iconic image.

Introductory chapters look briefly at the period leading up to the war, the Edwardian social scene, and the change in women’s roles (somewhat extraneously, perhaps), before moving on to a brief examination of Kitchener’s life. His background, the wars he participated in, and his death are all covered.

The history of the poster and popular cartoonists and the use of propaganda posters in the war set the scene for looking at the work of Alfred Leete, who created the famous image. The artistic technique is covered, as well as how the picture was received and has entered popular memory and culture. The book puts to bed the theory that the poster was not used for recruiting purposes during the war with contemporary pictures of it being displayed. A timeline gives examples of how it has been used, reproduced, and adapted over the years for a variety of purposes.

The sections of the book are short and punchy and easily cover the key points. Image quality is superb, although some of the pictures would have benefited being reproduced in a larger-sized volume. Overall this is a well-researched, easily digestible volume that at the very least gives a solid introduction to the use of propaganda and the Kitchener image in the war.

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Kitchener Wants You: The Man, the Poster and the Legacy