History Professor’s Book Explores Lives of Ordinary WWI Soldiers
Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, Dr. Edward Woodfin, associate professor of history at Converse, has published a new book on the lives of British empire soldiers in World War I. Camp and Combat on the Sinai and Palestine Front:The Experience of the British Empire Soldier, 1916-18 was published by Macmillan and is available for purchase online.
“It’s full of stories of thirst and heat and flies and fighting and terror and loss. I think that readers can connect with these kinds of experiences and sympathize with these men…”
According to Woodfin, “This project took me entirely around the world, starting in Britain, then west to Australia and New Zealand (where I spent a year on a Fulbright Post-Graduate Fellowship). I went westward again after that, visiting the Sinai in Egypt and then doing more research in Scotland on the way home. I worked in 16 different archives, reading letters and diaries from hundreds of British Empire soldiers (from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand).”
Dr. Woodfin is less interested in the details of battles and military strategies than in the lives of ordinary soldiers. “This book is about regular people in World War I and what their lives were like on the Sinai and Palestine Front, which is a part of the World War I that most people don’t even know about, even though hundreds of thousands of British Empire soldiers fought there. It was one of the biggest wars in the history of the Middle East, but it’s been completely overshadowed by the Western Front. It’s an academic book, but it’s perfectly well suited for the general reader, too, because I don’t like to use academic or jargon. It’s full of stories of thirst and heat and flies and fighting and terror and loss. I think that readers can connect with these kinds of experiences and sympathize with these men, because the stories are all such basic human stories.”