Laugh or Cry (Hardback)
The British Soldier on the Western Front, 1914–1918
'Awakened by great shouted oaths below. Peeped over the side of the manger and saw a Belgian lass milking and addressing a cow with a comprehensive luridness that left no doubt in my mind that British soldiers had been billeted here before.' Private Norman Ellison, 1/6th King’s Liverpool Regiment
Humour helped the British soldier survive the terrible experiences they faced in the trenches of the Western Front during the Great War. Human beings are complicated, and there is no set pattern as to how they react to the outrageous stresses of war. But humour, often dark and representative of the horrors around them could and often did help. They may have been up to their knees in mud and blood, soaking wet and shot at from all sides, but many were still determined to see the ‘funny side’, rather than surrender to utter misery. Peter Hart and Gary Bain have delved deep into the archives to find examples of the soldier’s wit. The results are at times hilarious but rooted in tragedy. You have to laugh or cry.
Article: Everything you wanted to know about life in the trenchesHistory Revealed
Review as featured inWho Do You Think You Are
Highlight: 'Superbly researched and written, Laugh or Cry is a must-read for anyone who has an ancestor who served in the war, as well as those who have a more general interest in the Western Front.'
Overall, we can expect nothing less from both Hart and Bain who hold back no punches in making us appreciate what the experience of these men were, but also - in a round about way - how fortunate we are today that we do not have to go through such experience. Whilst never taking away from the quite horrendous experiences that these men went through, they continually recognise the importance of humour. There in is perhaps a further lesson for everyone.Jon Sandison
I hope that we can expect future joint books from the authors which take a refreshing slant on the experience that humanity endured in the First World War. I look forward to dipping into the extracts from this book for many years to come.
4 out of 5Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)
I’ll warrant that any British soldier who reads this book, whilst shaking his head at how much is still the same a century later, will smile and feel kinship with the Tommies, Canucks and ANZACs of 14-18.
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Featured byWestern Front Association
The book goes along nicely going from one quote to another, it’s an easy read because the book is written very well indeed.The History Fella
Written by a couple of excellent historians, I can’t really fault this book at all, and is surely a must of any Great War fans.
It is captivating and entertaining read and is unreservedly recommended for anyone who has an interest in thePhil Curme
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