Thursday, 24 November 2016

Book Review | A Soldiers Sketchbook by John Wilson

A unique First World War diary, illustrated with more than a hundred stunning pencil sketches, for children learning history and also for adults interested in a new perspective on the War and authentic wartime artefacts. 

Russell Rabjohn was just eighteen years old when he joined up to fight in the First World War. In his three years of soldiering, he experienced the highs and lows of army life, from a carefree leave in Paris to the anguish of seeing friends die around him. Like many soldiers, he defied army regulations and recorded everything he saw and felt in a small pocket diary.
Private Rabjohn was a trained artist, and as such he was assigned to draw dugouts, map newly captured trenches, and sketch the graves of his fallen comrades. This allowed him to carry an artist's sketchbook on the battlefield--a freedom he put to good use, drawing everything he saw. Here, in vivid detail, are images of the captured pilot of a downed German biplane; the horrific Flanders mud; a German observation balloon exploding in midair; and the jubilant mood in the streets of Belgium when the Armistice is finally signed. With no surviving veterans of the First World War, Rabjohn's drawings are an unmatched visual record of a lost time.
Award-winning author John Wilson brings his skills as a historian and researcher to bear, carefully curating the diary to provide context and tell the story of Private Rabjohn's war. He has selected each of the diary entries and the accompanying images, and has provided the background that modern-day readers need to understand what a young soldier went through a century ago. The result is a wonderfully detailed and dramatic account of the war as seen through an artist's eyes. 

*This book was provided through NetGalley. My review is entirely honest*

I've been really into accounts of the war recently, both real and fictitious. That's what instantly drew me towards this book, the fact that it was a sketchbook as well drew me in even more (no pun intended, honest!). 
I really enjoyed this book. Narrative woven in nicely with the sketches, this was a great account of the war, it was interesting, informative and gave a more personal perspective, rather than a lot of facts thrown at you like a lot of the history books. 
Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a quick and interesting read.


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