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Response to Review no. 728

I have never before been invited to respond to a review of one of my books. In principle this provides a splendid platform to reply to criticisms, clarify disputed points and develop one’s ideas. In this case, however, Alisa Miller’s reading of the book has been so thorough, perceptive and generally favourable that there is little I wish to add.

Near the bottom of page three the reviewer mentions my references to books by Hynes and Fussell but does not explain why I am so critical of them; namely their denial that the First World War has any meaning as history. Historians must vigorously contest this literary-cultural approach. She then makes a valid point that I might have broadened my study to discuss recent works by cultural historians. I can only reply that this would have blurred my focus on memoirs and resulted in a different kind of book. To some extent I did address wider social and political themes in my previous book The Unquiet Western Front.(1) As she fairly concludes, my main aims were to show that the memoirs discussed were very varied, extremely interesting and worthy of more attention from students of the history of the First World War.

Notes

  1. Brian Bond, The Unquiet Western Front: Britain’s Role in Literature and History (Cambridge, 2002).Back to (1)