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Posters of the Great War (Hardback)

Published in association with Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, France,

Colour Books Military WWI > Home Front

By Frédérick Hadley, Martin Pegler
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781781592892
Published: 20th May 2013



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Until the arrival of radio and television, and despite the influence of newspapers, posters were the major medium for mass communication. During the Great War all the belligerent nations produced an extraordinary variety of them - and they did so on a massive scale. As the 200 wartime and immediate post-war posters selected for this book reveal, they were one of the most potent, and memorable, ways of conveying news, information and propaganda.

In the most graphic and colourful fashion they promoted values such as patriotism and sacrifice. By using rallying symbols such as flags as well as historical and mythical models, they sought to maintain morale and draw people together by stirring up anger against the enemy. Today their remarkable variety of styles give us an instant insight into the themes and messages the military and civilian authorities wished to publicize.

The sheer inventiveness of the poster artists is demonstrated as they focused on key aspects of the propaganda campaign in Britain, France, Germany, America and Russia. The diversity of their work is displayed here in chapters that cover recruitment, money raising, the soldier, the enemy, the family and the home front, films and the post-war world.

A century ago, when these images were first viewed, they must have been even more striking in contrast to the poor-quality newspaper photographs and postcards that were available at the time. The Great War was to change that forever. It introduced a means of propaganda that was novel, persuasive and above all, powerful. It was the first media war, and the poster played a key role in it.

The book contains 200 posters, most of them made during wartime and a few after that. I was surprised to see many historical references in them, showing that people at that time were educated and knew mythology and history. The styles are so different, but you can see a theme throughout the German ones, for example, a style which is unique to them.

While I read this book because I am studying the WWI period, I think this book would be very good for people who are interested in propaganda, including modern-day propaganda and public information, and, of course, for those who have a passion for art. All of these were designed by artists and their message is sometimes very powerful.

5/5 stars

Read the full review here

Coffee and Books

A valuable contribution to how posters played an important part in war-making.

Strategy Page

This impressive book contains 200 full colour posters from the collection of the Historical Museum of the Great War at Péronne. ... This is a fascinating view of both how each country saw the war, and the messages they wanted to get to their populations.

History of War

This is a valuable addition to the considerable number of books about Great War publicity posters. Pen & Sword, in collaboration with the Historical Museum, Peronne, has pushed the boat out by printing on high quality coated paper and reproducing each of the many posters on display in sharp colour.

As a real bonus this fascinating and classy work is offered for what I consider a bargain price for its quality and the volume of high quality reproductions. Hugely recommended.

Western Front Association

A stunning collection of century-old graphic art makes "Posters of the Great War" must-see reading. [The book] does a brilliant job of spotlighting how WWI became the first media war by introducing an innovative and potent means of mass communication.

Toy Soldier & Model Figure Magazine

Over 200 hand-picked posters from World War I and its immediate aftermath. Posters of The Great war is a cornucopia of alluring imagery.

All About History

In my own personal library of military literature there are some books that I delve into time and time again and generally come away having learnt (or re-remembered), something new to these titles and in the category of “essential reading”, I would unhesitatingly add Posters of The Great War. The reproductions of the posters are first class and of a standard that book lovers have come to expect from Pen & Sword. Nor is the scope of the work confined to those familiar recruiting posters that are so symbolic of the war. Posters of the Great War is, I would argue, an essential addition for libraries and school libraries alike and could be just the thing to excite interest in a new generation of curious enthusiasts or re-kindle a passion in those of us who have been studying the conflict for decades. As far as this somewhat wizened reviewer is concerned, I still found much to intrigue and delight and I know I shall be re-visiting this work again and again. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.


About Frédérick Hadley

Frédérick Hadley is curator at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, and he has written and complied many articles and books for the museum

About Martin Pegler

Martin Pegler was curator of firearms at the Royal Armouries for twenty years and during his career shoot almost every historic and current sniping rifle. He is the author of a dozen books about firearms, but specialises in the development sniper and technology of sniping. He lives in France with his wife.

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