Thursday, 19 December 2013

Learning from fiction

Most people think of the First World War in terms of muddy trenches and appalling slaughter. True, much of it was like that, but not in the first few weeks. Certainly not in August 1914. In fact, had the Schlieffen plan worked, Germany would probably have been victorious within thirty days and there would have been no drawn-out trench warfare.

When I set about writing “In Foreign Fields” I wanted to depict that other aspect of the war, the bit we rarely think about. The bit most people know little about. So I started at the beginning with the retreat from Mons. It’s easy to say that we think mostly of the trench war because it lasted so long, but there’s another side to it. It instantly comes to mind because that’s how books and films usually portray it, ignoring earlier aspects of the war. Most people remember well what they see in the cinema or read about in novels. Most people do not study the academic history of the war.

I plan to write sequels to “In Foreign Fields”. The second book, “In Line of Fire” will cover the siege of Antwerp and the First Battle of Ypres. I won’t describe life in the trench war until later.



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