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Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War Hardcover – October 1, 2010
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In general, British junior officers in the First World War had a life expectancy of six weeks, hence the title of the book. Most of them were fresh out of High School - usually the products of the British "Public School" system (that's private schools to the rest of them) where the upper class and upper middle class children went. And they went from High School to Officers Training Units and from there, more often than not, straight to the Western Front. And on the Western Front they died by the thousands, many of them leading their men from the front in a charge out of the trenches and across no-mans-land, knowing that the German machine guns were waiting and would be trained on the man at the front and knowing that many of their predecessors had fallen before them in identical attacks that more often than not had failed.
The author really does focus on these often overlooked men (boys really) who were so crucial to Britain's war effort. He bases his book on a huge range of first person accounts that are available - many of these being letters and diaries sent home or back to their school. We can see from these what motivated these men, the kind of life they lived on the front and in the trenches, how they led and motivated their men, and how they tried to behave in the short time many of them had left before they died.
WW1 was the death of the Edwardian era, and the junior officers that were slaughtered were the potential leaders of an entire generation. It's a well-written and poignant look at these boys, for that was what most of them were, and a tribute to them as well. Well worth the read for anyone interested in the history of WW1.
It tells the stories of the actual heroes of the WW1-the junior officers- their miseries, fears, hopes and beliefs.
The book shows the way these boys (most of them were high school students at the time) coped with all of the obstacles the war was causing them every day. More importantly, the book shows the way these young men were overcoming the bad times in the name of the freedom of their country.
"Six Weeks" shows the sacrifices these junior officers made- they went to fight for the freedom of Great Britain, leaving their families and their peaceful lives to ensure a more secure future of their families when the war is over. They risked their lives in the name of a brighter future, but still they remained faithful to their ideals and beloved people and even at circumstances like these they managed to build friendships with the other officers around them. They took care of each other, trying to make their days better with light humour and a lot of mental strength.
I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to find out what the real WW1 was- the war of the people.