Forgotten Voices of the Great War

Posted on centenarynews.com on 10 March 2016
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Author: Max Arthur
Publication Date: 02 October 2003

'This unique landmark oral history uses first-hand accounts from ordinary men and women who were there. Gripping, poignant, surprising and even humorous, the personal experiences of these soldiers, civilians, marines and medics from both sides tell us what it was really like to live through what was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Skilfully assembled by acclaimed author and historian Max Arthur using the IWM’s remarkable sound archive, Forgotten Voices of the Great War became an instant classic on first publication with close to half a million copies sold.

In 1972, the Imperial War Museum began a momentous and important task. A team of academics, archivists and volunteers set about tracing First World War veterans and interviewing them in order to record the experiences of ordinary individuals in war. Since then the Sound Archive has grown to become the largest and most important oral history collections in the world. It now contains over 34,000 recordings, including interviews with veterans of both world wars – both service personnel and non-combatants – recordings relating to Britain and the Empire in the inter-war period 1919–1939, conflicts since 1945 and the Holocaust.

In 2002, Ebury Press published the first edition of Forgotten Voices of the Great War. It was both the first time many of these recordings had been transcribed and published, and the only comprehensive oral history of the First World War. Twelve further books covering aspects of the Second World War, the Falklands and the Victoria Cross followed, selling well over a million copies to date.'

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