The Fateful Year: England 1914

Mark Bostridge
Viking, £25

There are, quite rightly, going to be endless books about the First World War this centenary year — so how do you chose which ones you should spend your time and money reading? The Fateful Year: England 1914 seems like a good place to start.

The elusive “history book that doesn’t read like a history book”, it tells what England was like in that pivotal year, without ever trying to lecture.

Some of these facts are, of course, already well-known, like the antics of the Suffragettes, the crisis in Ireland and the general fear of German re-armament. But to really show how unsettled the country was beneath its veneer of Edwardian calm, Bostridge also delves into lesser reported stories. He talks of a school-pupil strike in a small east Anglian village, and the reaction to the murder of a small child on a north London train. With each topic, he writes passionately and engagingly, and the chapters easily flow, until finally, war breaks out and England — and the world — changes forever.

So, whether your interests lie in history, society as a whole, or finding an informative and rewarding book, The Fateful Year is a must.


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