130 Books about the War

I like lists of books, and I’ve found an interesting one.

It was compiled in 1918, and is called  called Thirteen Ways of Looking at the War.

(Why thirteen? Homage to Wallace Stevens? His ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ had been published in 1917.)

It’s purely a list, with no commentary, except that some titles are asterisked to show ‘those of enduring quality and those making a special appeal to young people’. Which suggests that the list’s original intention was educational.

The text has been  digitised by the Hathi Trust, and you can connect to it here. Alternatively, click on this thumbnail and you’ll find its seven pages of listings, reduced in size but just about readable.


Some good texts there, and some I’d never heard of…


  1. Roger
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Was ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ well enough known in 1918 to pay homage to or were Logan and Stevens both referring to another source?

    • Posted May 8, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      I’m wondering that – but googling ‘thirteen ways’ only brings up the Stevens poem and later imitations of it.

  2. Jeannette Evans
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know if Osprey Publishing has any intention of bringing back into print The Battlefields of the First World War: The Unseen Panoramas of the Western Front by Peter Barton and Richard Holmes?

    (If there were a contemporary list being drawn up, I believe this book would definitely be on it….)

  3. janevsw
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Alan Seeger is the only one of the poets I have heard of: interesting, as you say… have you read John Masefield on Gallipoli? What is it like?

    • Posted May 9, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Masefield’s first chapter says that he has come to consider the Dardanelles campaign: ‘not as a tragedy, nor as a mistake, but as a great human effort, which came, more than once, very near to triumph, achieved the impossible many times, and failed, in the end, as many great deeds of arms have failed, from something which had nothing to do with arms nor with the men who bore them.’
      That’s the spirit of the book. A modern reader will feel that he lets the military decision-makers off too lightly.
      There’s a good clear account of the campaign, though, and some stirring writing. It’s very much a text of its time.

  4. Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    This is remarkably interesting, George — thanks very much. I’ve only read 20 of the books on this list, so I foresee many happy hours ahead!

  5. David
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I would be interested to see your own list of recommended works that we readers should consider as essential and/or enjoyable.

    Though perhaps you will feel that my request is a bit like some of the hopeful students who post on your site asking you to do their homework for them and that I should do my own work by browsing your blog!

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