The British Army in Battle and its Image 1914-1918

This is just a quick note to say that a good book is now available at a reasonable price. Stephen Badsey’s The British Army in Battle and its Image 1914-1918, which was published a while back at the sort of price only the richest of academic libraries can afford, is now at Postscript Books, at a reasonable price. Remaindered I suppose. The economics of publishing continue to amaze me. Why not distribute it at a price affordable by humans from the start?
The book is a collection of very varied essays. There is a good account of a trench raid, what it involved and how it was carried out. I learned a lot from this. There are several essays on the theme of Haig and the press – conveying the interesting idea that his poor news-management skills (and disdain for journalists) did much to affect his subsequent reputation.
There is even an essay on Blackadder. I would recommend this to any A-Level students. When I was marking exam scripts this year, far too many students were treating Blackadder as though it was some kind of reliable historical source. Badsey does what their teachers should have done, carefully showing how the series expresses in perfect form the late-twentieth century myth of the futile war, and making very clear the many many ways in which it is utterly inaccurate (though still pretty funny).
In his introduction Badsey expresses a hope that when the big centenary comes around in 2014, the revisionist school of history will have become the dominant way of thinking about the War, and even the TV programmes won’t be preaching the futility gospel. Well, we shall see.
I note that next week the posh soap opera Downton Abbey starts a new series, set in the War years. It’ll be interesting to see how they present it. The trailer looks like mud, blood and anguish, but one lives in hope of more.

2 Comments

  1. Posted October 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    That is a good price. I know what you mean about academic publishers but the reality is they are only concerned with academic libraries buying copies. This is a constant frustration of mine. The reality is that academic press’ only expect to sell about 500-800 copies of any book. Despite this it is good to see that Continuum have put the first 3 of the Birmingham War Studies Series into paperback which should bring the price down a bit.

    Ross

    • Posted October 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      So it’s a vicious circle. Low readership means higher prices means even lower readership. It’s a flawed model of publishing, and means that many of the best books never stand a chance of reaching a wide audience.


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