Britain's outstanding military achievement in the First World War has been eclipsed by literary myths. Why has the Army's role on the Western Front been so seriously misrepresented? This 2002 book shows how myths have become deeply rooted, particularly in the inter-war period, in the 1960s, and in the 1990s. The outstanding 'anti-war' influences have been 'war poets', subalterns' trench memoirs, the book and film of All Quiet on the Western Front, and the play Journey's End. For a new generation in the 1960s the play and film of Oh What a Lovely War had a dramatic effect, while more recently Blackadder has been dominant. Until more recently, historians had either reinforced the myths, or had failed to counter them. This book follows the intense controversy from 1918 to the present, and concludes that historians are at last permitting the First World War to be placed in proper perspective.
The Unquiet Western Front: Britain's Role in Literature and History
Preface and acknowledgements; 1. The necessary war, 1914-18; 2. Goodbye to all that, 1919-33; 3. Donkeys and Flanders mud: the war rediscovered in the 1960s; 4. Thinking the unthinkable: the first world war as history; Sir Lees Knowles (1857-1928); The Lees Knowles lectures; Notes; Select bibliography; Index.