Anthony Seldon,David Walsh

Public Schools and The Great War

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In this pioneering and original book, Anthony Seldon and David Walsh study the impact that the public schools had on the conduct of the Great War, and vice versa. Drawing on fresh evidence from 200 leading public schools and other archives, they challenge the conventional wisdom that it was the public school ethos that caused needless suffering on the Western Front and elsewhere. They distinguish between the younger front-line officers with recent school experience and the older 'top brass' whose mental outlook was shaped more by military background than by memories of school.The Authors argue that, in general, the young officers' public school education imbued them with idealism, stoicism and a sense of service. While this helped them care selflessly for the men under their command in conditions of extreme danger, it resulted in their death rate being nearly twice the national average.This poignant and thought-provoking work covers not just those who made the final sacrifice, but also those who returned, andwhose lives were shattered as a result of their physical and psychological wounds. It contains a wealth of unpublished detail about public school life before and during the War, and how these establishments and the country at large coped with the devastating loss of so many of the brightest and best. Seldon and Walsh conclude that, 100 years on, public school values and character training, far from being concepts to be mocked, remain relevant and that the present generation would benefit from studying them and the example of their predecessors.Those who read Public Schools and the Great War will have their prevailing assumptions about the role and image of public schools, as popularised in Blackadder, challenged and perhaps changed.
This book is currently unavailable
544 printed pages
Original publication
2013

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