WITHOUT MACHINE GUN TO CAMBRAI

Book Review: A Fool In France, by Christina Keith. Part One: The Daintiest of Tan Suede Shoes.

A publisher told me once: books come in two categories; those for men and those for women. Men buy books about Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and war; women buy novels. Apart from books about cookery and cats, that’s the English market. Writers of men’s books saw the 2014 centenary of the Great War approaching well in time but, so far, few of their books have captured the public imagination, perhaps because too many of them hit the market in one go and too many of them look the same. Most publishers are not mavericks in the herd. Instead of giving us interesting new stories they prefer re-garnishing the old ones. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend every time. Lions led by donkeys; mud, blood and self-sacrifice; in Flanders fields the poppies grow, in industrially homogenised formats.

The best most useful way to mark the 1914 – 2014 centenary would be for publishers to admit their ignorance of the Great War’s already vast literature and to concede that most of the necessary books about 1914 – 1918 have been on the shelves for decades – books written by the men and women who fought it and paid for it. Publishers could then concentrate on re-publishing authentic Great War books that have fallen into obscurity, or rescuing from the archives worthwhile manuscripts and diaries that never made it into hard covers. A cade in point is A Fool In France, by Christina Keith.

…to read more of this review about a wonderful book check out The Great War Book Shop. This book sounds as though it would shed light on a side of the war not usually found. It’s certainly one I’ll look to purchase. I’ve always been interested in the two great wars since my father, grandfather, uncles and cousins served in them.

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