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Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, the Great War

John Lewis-Stempel

3 Reviews

Rated 0

Prose: non-fiction, General & world history, First World War, Wildlife: general interest, Wildlife: birds & birdwatching

The natural history of the Western Front during the First World War by the award-winning author of Meadowland.

Winner of the 2017 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize for nature writing

The natural history of the Western Front during the First World War

'If it weren't for the birds, what a hell it would be.'

During the Great War, soldiers lived inside the ground, closer to nature than many humans had lived for centuries. Animals provided comfort and interest to fill the blank hours in the trenches - bird-watching, for instance, was probably the single most popular hobby among officers. Soldiers went fishing in flooded shell holes, shot hares in no-man's land for the pot, and planted gardens in their trenches and billets. Nature was also sometimes a curse - rats, spiders and lice abounded, and disease could be biblical.

But above all, nature healed, and, despite the bullets and blood, it inspired men to endure. Where Poppies Blow is the unique story of how nature gave the British soldiers of the Great War a reason to fight, and the will to go on.

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Praise for Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, the Great War

  • What makes Where Poppies Blow so freshly moving is the picture it paints of the reverence, love and kindness the natural world can engender - Financial Times

  • Remarkable . . . a truly wondrous and original work - Daily Express Christmas Books

  • Moving, strangely life-affirming - Country Life

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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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