Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway sponsored by Regal Literary.
Englund’s book isn’t a history of the First World War, at least not a normal history. Following the experiences of twenty nobodies, The Beauty and the Sorrow showcases the experience of people during the war, from the battlefields to the nursing stations to the home front. His cast is diverse, Germans, Brits, Americans, nurses, one house wife, and a schoolgirl. The book is organized by year and jumps around. The people come and go and not everyone makes it.
The book is more about personal experience than the general battle, though Englund does include a timeline for each year. So the reader discovers what the nurses went through or hears about cavalry man who had to see to the death of his horse and then eat the gelding. If works such as Tuchman’s give you a global scope, this is intimate, and far more important because of that.
In the 100 years since the War, it is important that we remember it simply because of how it changed everything. IN the US, we don’t really think about it, and while the National Mall in DC does boast a WW I memorial, it is for those from the area, not a National memorial like for the other wars. This book deals with the war in a far more intimate way, and does not romanticize it in a way that certain televised dramas do.
Highly recommended for history bluffs. Highly recommended for everyone.
(Memorial in Washington DC)