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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

The Beauty And The Sorrow: An intimate history of the First World War

The Beauty And The Sorrow - Peter Englund, Peter Graves Drawn from personal journals and letters, The Beauty and The Sorrow interweaves poignant and harrowing stories of twenty ordinary people with widely varying backgrounds, nationalities and occupations, who are all caught up in the turmoil of World War I. The individuals include an English nurse in Russia, a 12-year-old German girl, an Australian army engineer, a Venezuelan cavalryman in the Ottoman army, and an American opera singer married to a Polish aristocrat. The number of entries for each person varies, and their stories are intermingled, presented in the order that they happened, but I found I enjoyed the book more when I untangled some of the accounts using the index so I could follow the people I was most interested in straight through from start to finish. Every chapter covers one year of the war, and begins with a chronological list of that year’s battles and invasions. Some of the source materials the author draws on are available in their entirety from Amazon or through Google Books, and the ones I’ve perused so far are well worth looking up if you want more information. I’ve especially enjoyed the book When the Prussians Came to Poland, written by Laura Turczynowicz, the American opera singer who was living in Poland with her family and leading a Downton Abbey-like life of luxury when the war began. As the Downton Abbey characters did, Laura abandoned some of her aristocratic lifestyle to tend to gravely wounded soldiers, but unlike her fictional British counterparts Laura’s grand family home had to be abruptly abandoned when it became the front line of battle, and she and her children escaped with little more than their lives.