Bristol 2014 The City And Conflict From The First World War To The Present Day

Bristol 2014 is part of the First World War Centenary Partnership

First World War Centenary Partnership Programme

Bristol 2014 is supported by:

Heritage Lottery Fund Arts Council England Bristol City Council Business West Society of Merchant Venturers University of the West of England

It is coordinated by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership.

Great Reading Adventure: Other Books Suggested for the Project

When we first announced our plans for a Great Reading Adventure in 2014, we received many suggestions from the public for existing books that could be used in the project. Although all were of interest, none stood out as a clear favourite. There was also the problem of books still in copyright being too expensive for us to buy in the quantity we needed. However, we give the complete list of titles that were suggested below and encourage you to look for them in your local library or bookshop if you wish to read more about the subject.

This list is also available as a downloadable PDF.

Our thanks to Amy O'Beirne for her research for this section of the website.


Richard Aldington Death of a Hero: A Novel (1929)

‘One of the great World War I antiwar novels - honest, chilling, and brilliantly satirical… Based on the author's experiences on the Western Front, … Aldington's writing about Britain's ignorance of the tribulations of its soldiers is among the most biting ever published.’

Henri Barbusse Under Fire: The Story of a Squad (1916)

‘Written during the War and based on his own experiences, Henri Barbusse’s novel is a powerful account of one of the greatest horrors mankind has inflicted upon itself and a critique of the inequality between ranks and of the incomprehension of those who have managed to avoid active service.’

Pat Barker Regeneration Trilogy: Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road (1991-1998)

‘Widely acclaimed and admired, Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy paints with moving detail the far-reaching consequences of a conflict which decimated a generation.’

Sebastian Barry A Long, Long Way (2005)

‘brilliantly explores and dramatises the events of the Easter Rising within Ireland, and how such a seminal political moment came to affect those boys off fighting for the King of England on foreign fields -- the paralysing doubts and divisions it caused them.’

William Boyd An Ice-Cream War (1982)

‘… William Boyd brilliantly evokes the private dramas of a generation upswept by the winds of war.’

John Buchan The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) and John Buchan Greenmantle (1916)

Two adventure stories featuring Buchan’s hero Richard Hannay caught up in international intrigue at a time of global unrest.

Willa Cather One of Ours (1922)

‘This groundbreaking novel ... follows the ups and downs of the young protagonist Claude Wheeler through his tumultuous transition to adulthood, as he takes on college life, new experiences, marriage, disillusionment, and finally, the ultimate test of courage on the battlefields of World War I.’

Louis-Ferdinand Céline Journey to the End of the Night (1932)

‘... immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece ... the novel is based on the author’s own experiences during the First World War.’

Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service (1903)

‘One of the first great spy novels, The Riddle of the Sands is set during the long suspicious years leading up to the First World War.’

Humphrey Cobb Paths of Glory (1935)

‘... explores the perilous complications involved in what nations demand of their soldiers in wartime... A chilling portrait of injustice, this novel offers insight into the tragedies of war in any age.’

Alfred Döblin Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929)

‘... the story of Franz Biberkopf, who, on being released from prison, is confronted with the poverty, unemployment, crime and burgeoning Nazism of 1920s Germany. As Franz struggles to survive in this world, fate teases him with a little pleasure before cruelly turning on him.’

Jon Dos Passos Three Soldiers (1921)

‘This grimly realistic depiction of army life follows a trio of idealists as they contend with the regimentation, violence, and boredom of military service...remains chillingly contemporary.’

Ben Elton The First Casualty (2005)

‘... a gut-wrenching historical drama which explores some fundamental questions. What is murder? What is justice in the face of unimaginable daily slaughter? And where is the honour in saving a man from the gallows if he is only to be returned to die in a suicidal battle?’

Sebastian Faulks Birdsong (1993)

‘A novel of overwhelming emotional power, Birdsong is a story of love, death and survival.’

Ford Madox Ford Parade’s End (1924-1928)

‘Ranging from the drawing rooms of England to the trenches of France, and moving between past and present, it is a haunting exploration of identity, loss and memory.’

C S Forester The General (1936)

‘The most vivid, moving - and devastating - word-portrait of a World War One British commander ever written.’

Georg Grabenhorst Zero Hour (1928)

‘An autobiographical novel of World War I experiences in the German ranks ... recalls specifics of battlefield actions on the western front with a visceral language that still resonates today.’

Cicely Hamilton William: An Englishman (1918)

'Written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel... is a passionate assertion of the futility of war.’

Jaroslav Hašek The Good Soldier Švejk: And His Fortunes in the World War (1923)

‘The story of a 'little man' caught in a vast bureaucratic machine, The Good Soldier Svejk combines dazzling wordplay and piercing satire to create a hilariously subversive depiction of the futility of war.’

Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms (1929)

‘This gripping, semi-autobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.’

Susan Hill Strange Meeting (1971)

‘Susan Hill's classic novel Strange Meeting tells of the power of love amidst atrocities.’

Richard Hughes The Human Predicament Trilogy: The Fox in the Attic and The Wooden Shepherdess (1971-1973)

The two volumes of Hughes’ unfinished trilogy take rich, young Augustine from the eve of Hitler’s ill-fated 1923 Munich putsch to the dawn of the Second World War.  

Sébastien Japrisot A Very Long Engagement (1981)

‘A suspenseful thriller and one which transforms a personal tragedy into the epitome of all wartime atrocities.’

Jennifer Johnston How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974)

‘Emotionally hefty novel ... concerns the tensions surrounding the friendship between an Irish aristocrat, Alexander Moore, and a labourer on his lands, Jerry, before and during the First World War.’

Frederic Manning Her Privates We (1929)

‘The Battle of the Somme told from the perspective of Bourne, an ordinary private ... A raw and shockingly honest portrait of men engaged in war.’

Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun Charley’s War (1979-1984)

‘A truly classic piece of British comics history, by turns thrilling, humorous and horrifying.’

Boris Pasternak Doctor Zhivago (1957)

‘... the epic story of the life and loves of a poet-physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.’

Ron Rash The Cove (2012)

Set during the First World War, The Cove is ‘an unforgettable story of love, fate and divided loyalties.’

Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front (1929)

‘... the moving story of a young 'unknown soldier' experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.’

Erich Maria Remarque The Road Back (1930)

‘The sequel to the masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front, The Road Back is a classic novel of the slow return of peace to Europe in the years following World War I.’

Erich Maria Remarque Three Comrades (1936)

Set in 1928, Three Comrades ‘portrays the greatness of the human spirit, manifested through characters who must find the inner resources to live in a world they did not make, but must endure.’

Ludwig Renn War (1929)

An autobiographical novel of one German soldier’s experiences on the Western Front during the First World War.

Derek Robinson Goshawk Squadron (1971)

‘A powerful indictment of war ... also very funny, often painfully so ...  this is Derek Robinson's masterly novel of the war in the air over the Western Front in 1918.’

Jules Romains Verdun (1938)

‘Entirely based on fact ... it makes the horrors of the Great War live in an intense way.’

Joseph Roth The Radetzky March (1932)

‘Beginning at the moment when the Habsburg dominions began to crumble, and ending at the moment when the old Emperor's body is finally entombed in the vault of Capuchins in Vienna, the narrative arc of Roth's novel is perfectly judged ... However, it is Roth's intelligent compassion and ironic sense of history that confer on The Radetzky March its greatness.’

Siegfried Sassoon Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930)

‘Siegfried Sassoon's fictionalised autobiography of the period between the early spring of 1916 and the summer of 1917 ... The mind of the narrator turns from unquestioning acceptance of the war and of the standards which it set up, to doubting the necessity of the seemingly endless slaughter.’

R C Sheriff Journey’s End (1929)

‘... an unflinching vision of life in the trenches towards the end of the First World War’

Mikhail Sholokov And Quiet Flows the Don (1929)

‘The novel traces the progress of the Cossack Gregor Melekhov from youthful lover to Red Army soldier and finally to Cossack nationalist. War - in the form of both international conflict and civil revolution - provides the epic backdrop for the narrative and determines its tone of moral ambiguity.’

Dalton Trumbo Johnny Got His Gun (1935)

‘Trumbo's stark, profoundly troubling masterpiece about the horrors of the First World War brilliantly crystallised the uncompromising brutality of war’

Jane Urquhart The Stone Carvers (2001)

‘Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.’

Roger Vercel Captain Conan (1934)

‘This is a brutal tale of the exploits of French commandos on the Great War's Bulgarian front...Largely autobiographical and told from the perspective of a young lieutenant, the book follows the exploits of a French commando unit attacking Bulgarian outposts along the Romanian border.’

H G Wells Mr Britling Sees It Through (1916)

‘H G Wells’ masterpiece of the wartime experience in England.’

See Sir Christopher Frayling’s lecture H G Wells: Mr Britling sees it Through, The Shape of Things to Come, Mind at the End of its Tether ADD WHAT'S ON LINK WHEN READY on Tuesday 18 November 2014.

Rebecca West Return of the Soldier (1918)

‘a masterful novel about a shell-shocked, amnesiac soldier returning from WWI to the three women who love him.’

Henry Williamson The Patriot’s Progress (1930)

‘This novel of one man's experiences in World War I captures to the full the grim flavour of the ordinary man caught up in a conflict over which he has no control.’

Henry Williamson A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (1951-1969): Volume 4: How Dear is Life (1954), Volume 5: A  Fox Under My Cloak (1955), Volume 6: The Golden Virgin (1957), Volume 7: Love and the Loveless (1958), Volume 8: A Test to Destruction (1960)

‘The series opens in 1863, and goes on to cover the story of Phillip Maddison and that of his family and friends through the first half of the twentieth century, including two world wars and a great deal of the social history of the period.’

Stefan Zweig Journey into the Past (ca. 1933)

‘Exiled for nine years by the First World War, Ludwig has finally returned home to meet the woman he so passionately loved, and who had promised to wait for him ... a poignant examination of the angst of nostalgia and the fragility of love.’

Stefan Zweig Wondrak and Other Stories

Compulsion, In the Snow and Wondrak all concern Zweig's strong anti-war feelings following the First World War.’


David Jones In Parenthesis (1937)

‘With quiet modesty, David Jones begins a work that is among the most powerful imaginative efforts to grapple with the carnage of the First World War. Fusing poetry and prose, gutter talk and high music, wartime terror and ancient myth, Jones, who served as an infantryman on the Western Front, presents a picture at once panoramic and intimate of a world of interminable waiting and unforeseen death.’


Edmund Blunden Undertones of War (1928) 

‘In one of the finest autobiographies to come out of the First World War, the acclaimed poet Edmund Blunden records his devastating experiences in France and Flanders.’

Vera Brittain Testament of Youth (1933)

‘.. one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War… A passionate record of a lost generation.’

Robert Graves Goodbye to All That (1930)

‘This is his superb account of his life ... from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life.’

Ernst Jünger Storm of Steel (1920)

‘A memoir of astonishing power, savagery and ashen lyricism, Storm of Steel depicts Ernst Jünger’s experience of combat in the German front line ... it illuminates like no other book not only the horrors but also the fascination of a war that made men keep fighting on for four long years.’

T E Lawrence Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926)

‘In writing his extraordinary account of the Arab Revolt of 1916 – 1918 ... T. E. Lawrence sealed his place in history and legend as Lawrence of Arabia.’

Click on the link to listen to the audio recording of the Bristol 2014 event Scott Anderson: Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East which took place earlier this year.

Cecil Lewis Sagittarius Rising (1936)

‘In this vivid and spirited account the author evocatively sets his love of the skies and flying against his bitter experience of the horrors of war, as we follow his progress from France and the battlefields of the Somme, to his pioneering defence of London against deadly night time raids.’

Henry Williamson The Wet Flanders Plain (1929)

‘In 1928 Williamson revisited the battlefields of Flanders and Northern France in the company of a fellow veteran ... He hoped to rid himself of the 'wraiths' of the war. Whether or not he succeeded, he produced an unforgettable testament.’

Stefan Zweig The World of Yesterday (1942)

‘... brings the destruction of a war-torn Europe vividly to life ... A truthful and passionate account of the horror that tore apart European culture, The World of Yesterday gives us insight into the history of a world brutally destroyed’

Other Non-Fiction

Geoff Dyer The Missing of the Somme (1994)

‘An original and personal meditation upon war and remembrance. It weaves a network of myth and memory, photos and films, poetry and sculptures, graveyards and ceremonies that illuminate our understanding of, and relationship to, the Great War.’

Joseph Roth What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933

‘Roth produced a series of impressionistic and political writings that influenced an entire generation of writers. These pieces record the violent social and political paroxysms that threaten to undo the fragile democracy that was the Weimar Republic.’

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