Winner of the 2017 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for nature writing
The natural history of the Western Front during the First World War
'If it weren't for the birds, what a hell it would be.'
During the Great War, soldiers lived inside the ground, closer to nature than many humans had lived for centuries. Animals provided comfort and interest to fill the blank hours in the trenches - bird-watching, for instance, was probably the single most popular hobby among officers. Soldiers went fishing in flooded shell holes, shot hares in no-man's land for the pot, and planted gardens in their trenches and billets. Nature was also sometimes a curse - rats, spiders and lice abounded, and disease could be biblical.
But above all, nature healed, and, despite the bullets and blood, it inspired men to endure. Where Poppies Blow is the unique story of how nature gave the British soldiers of the Great War a reason to fight, and the will to go on.
|Publisher:||Orion Publishing Group, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
John Lewis-Stempel is an award-winning writer predominantly known for his books on nature and history. He lives in Herefordshire, on the very edge of England before it runs into Wales, and within a stone's throw (with a decent gust of wind) from where his family farmed in the 1300s. His many books include the bestselling SIX WEEKS, about British frontline officers in the First World War, THE WAR BEHIND THE WIRE and MEADOWLAND, winner of the Thwaites Wainwright Prize for nature writing. His books have been published in languages as diverse as Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese, are available on all continents apart from Antarctica, and have sold more than a million copies. He has two degrees in history, writes books under the pen name Jon E. Lewis, is married with two children, and also farms.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations xiii
Chapter I For king and Countryside: The natural history of the british 1
Interstice 1 Birds of the battlefield, western front 1914-18 27
Chapter II And the birds are beautiful still: Avifauna and men on the western front 32
Interstice 2 Poems about birds written by serving soliders 78
Chapter III All the lovely horses: equus as beast of burden, war horse, comrade 86
Interstice 3 Poems about horses written by serving soldiers 138
Chapter IV Of Lice and men: Trench pests, vermin and disease 158
Interstice 4 The statistics of disease 204
Chapter V The bloom of life: Trenchand pow gardens, flowers and botanists at the front 206
Interstice 5 Nature and the Ancre battlefield, 30 July 1917 238
Chapter VI The Dogs (and Cats, Rabbits, Etc.) of War: Trench Pets 242
Interstice 6 A Complete List of Soldiers' Pets and Mascots 269
Chapter VII A-Hunting and A-Shooting (and A-Fishing) we will go: Field Sports and Poaching at the Front 278
Interstice 7 British and Empire Naturalists Who Died on Active Service 1914-1919 297
Chapter VIII And Quiet Flowed the Somme: War's End 306