Author(s): Richard Van Emden
For soldiers in the Great War, going over the top was a comparatively rare event; much more frequently, they were bored and lonely and missing their families at home. Needing an outlet for their affection, many found it in the animal kingdom. "Tommy's Ark" looks at the war through the eyes of the soldiers who were there, and examines their relationship with a strange and unexpected range of animal life, from horses, dogs and cats to monkeys and birds - even in one case a golden eagle. Animals became mascots - some Welsh battalions had goats as mascots, some of the Scots had donkeys. And then there were the animals and insects that excited curiosity amongst men drawn into the army from the industrial heartlands of Britain, men who had little knowledge of, let alone daily contact with, wildlife. Civilians turned soldiers observed the natural world around them, from the smallest woodlouse to voles, mice and larger animals such as deer and rabbit. Richard van Emden explores his subject far more radically than previous attempts, revealing how, for example, a lemur was taken on combat missions in the air, a lion was allowed to pad down the front line trenches and how a monkey lost its leg during the fighting at Delville Wood on the Somme. This title is illustrated with more than sixty previously unseen or rarely published photographs, drawn mainly from the author's own extraordinary collection.
Major author publicity and widespread review coverage at time of publication. The Trench, The Last Fighting Tommy (which has sold over 300,000 copies) and The Soldier's War have established Richard van Emden as the leading First World War historian. This book will draw upon unpublished diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs, as well as recollections taken from Richard van Emden's own collection of interviews with 270 Great War veterans.
Praise for 'The Soldier's War' 'Thousands of books have been written about the Great War, but perhaps none so vividly evocative as The Soldier's War ... an extraordinary homage to a lost generation' Daily Mail 'In The Soldier's War, Richard van Emden has toiled in archives and hunted down caches of letters to tell the story of the war chronologically through the eyes of the Tommies who fought it' The Times 'Not the least remarkable aspect of Van Emden's trawl through the memories of these survivors is that they are accompanied by around 100 unpublished photos ... Since original images from the war's sharp end are rarities, these pictures - blurred and fuzzy though many of them are - are themselves worth the price of the book' Literary Review
Richard van Emden has interviewed over 270 veterans of the Great War and has written twelve books on the subject including The Trench, and The Last Fighting Tommy (both top ten bestsellers). He has also worked on more than a dozen television programmes on the First World War, including Prisoners of the Kaiser, Veterans, Britain's Last Tommies, the award winning Roses of No Man's Land and Britain's Boy Soldiers and A Poem for Harry.