Four families in the Great War 1914-1918
By Reginald and Charles Fair
Menin House, 2012
I think it is fair to say that much of the interest in the Great War stems from people’s personal connection to the conflict. The war touched upon so many families in the country and left a vast array of tangible evidence. Some families may have medals, a death plaque, or a Princess Mary tin from Christmas 1914; others have perhaps just a faded and dog-eared photograph. Some are lucky enough to possess letters and other documentary evidence, which can be a rich source of information.
The Marjorie of the title was connected through her romantic ties and family connections to nine young men who served during the war. Most chapters are preceded by a brief introduction to the events being depicted; possibly not enough for the Great War novice but enough to set the scene. Much of the text is comprised of the letters to and from the front.
What makes this account so interesting is not only the contributions from several people, illustrating what life was like both on the front line and at home, but that the various correspondence covers the whole duration of the war.
At just over 450 pages this is no tokenistic contribution. The book is testament to thorough research, with meticulous referencing (over 500 footnotes) and a comprehensive index that allows the reader to identify areas of interest or to dip in and out of the text. As one would expect, there are numerous relevant photographs and maps to accompany the text. Overall this work provides an insight not only into the men serving on the front line but the loved ones left behind, albeit from a distinctly middle class perspective.
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Marjorie’s War: Four Families in the Great War 1914-1918