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Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War

John Lewis-Stempel

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Prose: non-fiction, British & Irish history, First World War

The extraordinary story of British junior officers in the First World War, who led their men out of the trenches and faced a life expectancy of six weeks.

Often fresh out of school, many junior officers in the First World War went straight from being prefects to having to lead their men in a charge over the top, knowing that the German machine guns would be trained on the man at the front, knowing that so many of their predecessors had fallen before them. In this remarkable book, John Lewis-Stempel focuses on the oft-overlooked men who were crucial to Britain's war effort.

Basing his account on a huge range of first person accounts, including poignant letters and diaries sent home or back to their school, Lewis-Stempel reveals what motivated these men who faced an average life expectancy of just six weeks once they reached the frontline. He shows the life they led in the trenches, how they sought to keep up the spirits of their men and how they tried to behave with honour in a world where their codes of conduct were being quite literally shot to pieces.

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John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is an award-winning writer predominantly known for his books on nature and history. His many books include the best-selling Six Weeks, about British frontline officers in the First World War, described by the Literary Review as 'the most moving book I have ever read on the First World War' and by actor Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey) as 'the best research resource ever', The Autobiography of the British Soldier and The War Behind the Wire, about the life, death and glory of British PoWs in the First World War. His books have been published in languages as diverse as Brazilian Portuguese and Japanese and have sold more than a million copies. He has two degrees in history, writes books under the pen name Jon E. Lewis, is married with two children, and also farms in Herefordshire.

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