#BookReview for Call to Arms – Over By Christmas: Outbreak of War by David Bilton #CalltoArmsOverByChristmas #TheGreatWarIllustrated #TheGreatWar @penswordbooks @penswordebooks

For many years the Home Front was the Cinderella of the Great War. However, in recent years it has been acknowledged for the essential part it played in the successful prosecution of the war for the Allies. The same factors were at play in each of the warring states, but each reacted in its own ways to the demands.

This book builds upon The Home Front in the Great War, published in 2003, providing a fully illustrated account of every aspect of the civilian war. Much of it based around the experiences of two completely different places, Hull and Reading, showing that the experience of war was equally as hard and banal for both.

The illustrations are usefully grouped into themes allowing the reader to compare life in different countries. A wealth of material is also included from across the United Kingdom, making this a book that will be of national interest.

Much of the material included has not been seen since it was first published almost 100 years ago, and many of the photographs have never been in print in this country, and some anywhere before. Also included are a selection of short articles from local papers, that show exactly what the general population was feeling and experiencing during the troubled years of the Great War.

What makes this book unique is that it is not only a home front history of Britain, but also a history of the warring nations and the neutral countries affected.



I really enjoyed reading this book and looking at the images that have been selected to tell the story and illustrate the outbreak of The Great War from the summer of 1914 to that the Christmas festivities that year – and as the title says, they did all think that it would be over by that Christmas.

The book contains a multitude of black-and-white photographs that are used to tell the story.  The text is limited with a few lines commentary on the photos and I think that adds to the impact – the author really has let the photographs tell the story – and it works brilliantly.

I liked that many of the photos selected had not been used before, you can read some books that cover this period and they are using the same stock images and I didn’t find it to be the case with this one.

I do really enjoy books of this nature and I thought that this one was superb, it is 5 stars from me – very highly recommended!