Pen & Sword Books

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Keeping the Home Fires Burning

Keep the Home Fires Burning written by Phil Carradice and published by Pen & Sword Books - £20 - Hardback - Pages 224

Keeping the Home Fires Burning tells the story of how the troops and the general public were kept happy and content during the First World War. Between 1914 and 1918 there was the entertainment of the masses for the sole purpose of promotion of the war effort. It was the first time that a concerted effort to raise and sustain morale was ever made by any British government and was a combination of government sponsored ideas and lucky happenstance. It was all picked up and used by the new Propaganda Ministry.

The range of activities was wide and varied, from poetry to cinema, from music hall singers and artists to the creation of battlefield heroes. There was postcard humour and deliberate veneration of philanthropists - and war participants - like Woodbine Willie.

The theme of Keeping the Home Fires Burning is backed up by 40 illustrations from the time, including participants, posters, battlefield views and so on.

Keeping the Home Fires Burning looks at a part of the war not often mentioned but some would say was important. This book looks at the entertainment side of the Great War, it was seen by the Propaganda Ministry that what was needed was a way of keeping up the morale of the people both at home and abroad. After all, this was one of the first wars that not only involved combatants abroad but affected the non-combatants at home especially as a world war was happening just across the channel.

This involved entertainment for the masses in a number of ways from screen stars seen in the local picture house, to entertainment, shows at the local music halls, celebrating war heroes on postcards, art to even poetry. In a world where everything was being targeted towards the war effort, it was seen that rather than a public getting down and depressed by military losses and casualties. There needed to be a concerted effort to keep the public morale high in order to help the positivity among the population buoyant to help the effort.

This book written by Phil Carradice is an easy but entertaining read, but it seems well researched and documented. I have always enjoyed books by Carradice, as you kind of always guaranteed a good read. I also enjoyed the notes section and bibliography and will be reading further books that have been listed. This book should be recommended as it does look at an important part of the war that doesn’t get enough recognition.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Medieval Military Medicine

Medieval Military Medicine written by Brian Burfield and published by Pen & Sword Books - £20.00 - Hardback - Pages 224

Soldiers of the Middle Ages faced razor-sharp swords and axes that could slice through flesh with gruesome ease, while spears and arrows were made to puncture both armour and the wearer, and even more sinister means of causing harm produced burns and crush injuries. These casualties of war during the 500-year period between the ninth and thirteenth centuries in Northern and Western Europe are the focus of Brian Burfield’s study, but they represent just a portion of the story – disease, disability, disfigurement, damaged minds all played their roles in this awful reality.

Surgical methods are described in the book, as are the fixes for fractured skulls, broken bones and damaged teeth. Disfiguring scars and disabling injuries are examined alongside the contemporary attitudes towards them. Also investigated are illnesses like dysentery and St Anthony’s Fire, plus infected wounds which were often more deadly than the weapons of the age. A final chapter on the psychological trauma caused by war is included and contains a significant focus on the world of the Vikings.

Brian Burfield’s account features many individual cases, extracting their stories of wounds, sickness and death from chronicles, miracle collections, surgeries, government records and other documents. The prose, poetry and literature of the period are also of great value in bringing these cases to life, as is the evidence provided by modern archaeological and historical scholarship.

There are some books via their covers and descriptions that I just love to get my head into because they are so interesting or intriguing. So I was really looking forward to this, in military terms who doesn’t want to read about limbs being hacked off, stomachs run through and all the other types of injuries incurred on the battlefield. The book is a little gruesome in some places but it’s not too bad, this is what happens when your fighting in a medieval battle. What is quite impressive is the hard work and amount of research put into the book by the author Brian Burfield, he has written an excellent book that’s a good clear and easy to understand book. The book also goes over the number of effects of these injuries which were numerously described, the book goes into treatments, diseases and results. Yet again we read about my favourite, the good old leeches too. The notes and bibliography are great in this book and certainly a bonus. I would certainly recommend this book and can see it appealing to a wide audience.

The Battle of Reichswald - Rhineland - February 1945

The Battle of the Reichswald Rhineland - February 1945 written by Tim Saunders and published by Pen & Sword Books - £22 - Hardback - Pag...