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Tommy Atkins at War As Told in His Own Letters   By:

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Tommy Atkins at War As Told in His Own Letters by James Alexander Kilpatrick is a remarkable collection of letters that provides a deeply personal and poignant account of the experiences of a soldier during World War I.

The book presents a unique perspective by allowing the reader to delve into the mind and emotions of Tommy Atkins, a common soldier who volunteered to serve his country in a time of great turmoil. Through a series of letters that Tommy wrote to his family and loved ones, we are able to witness firsthand the impact that war had on him and the challenges he faced on a daily basis.

Kilpatrick's meticulous curation of Tommy's letters showcases the soldier's transformation from an eager young recruit to a battle-hardened veteran. With each correspondence, the reader witnesses Tommy's increasing disillusionment with the war, as the brutal realities and senselessness of the conflict become more apparent. His words paint a vivid picture of the horrors he witnesses on the front lines, making it impossible to remain indifferent to the sacrifices made by countless soldiers during such a tumultuous period in history.

One of the most compelling aspects of this book is the authenticity of Tommy's voice. Kilpatrick does an outstanding job presenting the letters in their original form, maintaining the soldier's unique vocabulary and writing style. This allows readers to connect with Tommy on a personal level, forging a bond that transcends time and space. We experience his moments of joy, his bouts of fear, and his longing for home, all of which evoke a genuine empathy within us.

Furthermore, Kilpatrick provides essential historical context and commentary throughout the book, enriching our understanding of the events that shaped Tommy's experience. His meticulous research ensures that readers obtain a well-rounded perspective on the broader aspects of the war while remaining focused on Tommy's personal journey.

Despite primarily focusing on Tommy's perspective, Kilpatrick also recognizes the impact of the war on those he left behind. By including snippets from Tommy's family's letters, he reveals the anguish, uncertainty, and hope they experienced while waiting for news from the front lines. This inclusion adds depth and dimension to the narrative, reminding us that Tommy's story is not hermetic, but part of a larger web of lives forever changed by the war.

In conclusion, Tommy Atkins at War As Told in His Own Letters by James Alexander Kilpatrick is a captivating and emotionally charged tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed everything during World War I. By presenting Tommy's personal account, Kilpatrick creates an intimate and heartfelt connection between the reader and the soldier. This book serves as a powerful reminder of the human cost of war, ensuring that the voices of those who lived through such conflicts will never be forgotten.

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Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive Canadian Libraries. See


"The English soldier is the best trained soldier in the world. The English soldier's fire is ten thousand times worse than hell. If we could only beat the English it would be well for us, but I am afraid we shall never be able to beat these English devils."

From a letter found on a German officer.


As Told in His Own Letters



New York McBride, Nast & Company



This little book is the soldier's story of the war, with all his vivid and intimate impressions of life on the great battlefields of Europe. It is illustrated by passages from his letters, in which he describes not only the grim realities, but the chivalry, humanity and exaltation of battle. For the use of these passages the author is indebted to the courtesy and generosity of the editors of all the leading London and provincial newspapers, to whom he gratefully acknowledges his obligations.





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