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Trench Art - Second Edition (Paperback)

WWI 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Military

By Dr Nicholas Saunders
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 160
ISBN: 9781848846371
Published: 17th October 2011
Last Released: 16th September 2019


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Engraved shell-cases, bullet-crucifixes, letter openers and cigarette lighters made of shrapnel and cartridges, miniature aeroplanes and tanks, talismanic jewellery, embroidery, objects carved from stone, bone and wood – all of these things are trench art, the misleading name given to the dazzling array of objects made from the waste of war, in particular the Great War of 1914-1918 and the inter-war years. And they are the subject of Nicholas Saunders's pioneering study which is now republished in a revised edition in paperback.

He reveals the lost world of trench art, for every piece relates to the story of the momentous experience of its maker – whether front-line soldier, prisoner of war, or civilian refugee. The objects resonate with the alternating terror and boredom of war, and those created by the prisoners symbolize their struggle for survival in the camps. Many of these items were poignant souvenirs bought by battlefield pilgrims between 1919 and 1939 and kept brightly polished on mantelpieces, often for a lifetime.

Nicholas Saunders investigates their origins and how they were made, exploring their personal meaning and cultural significance. He also offers an important categorization of types which will be a useful guide for collectors.

Now, this is a book about World War One which truly deserves a wide audience, dealing as it does with an aspect of the Great War not as well-known as it should be. Basically, “Trench Art” refers to art created from the waste of war: crucifixes made of bullets, engraved shell cases, models of tanks and planes, jewellery, embroidery, and more. The array of art created from a combination of terror and boredom is astonishing. Nicholas writes knowledgeably and movingly on his subjects, and the photos and layout are first class as you would expect from Pen & Sword.

Read the full review here

Hellbound, Steve Earles

This book is a concise history of trench art.

The Long, Long Trail
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