Book Reviews from Deerbolt Prison

As part of our on-going project at Deerbolt, The Bowes Museum kindly donated some of its library collection to the prison.  Two of the men became particularly enthralled by the literature they read and wrote reviews that capture their interest in the books. 

A review of Forgotten Voices of the Great War by Mac Arthur

This book really stood out for me as the title was “forgotten voices”.  This was a quote I wished wasn’t true, and as I read on it was clear why it was called this.  The voices of un-sung heroes is a big and main focal point of this book.  Veterans from lots of different angles telling their stories.  It shows that there was a lot of people back then that felt pressure was on them to sign up before the war as people got signs.  Although the war hadn’t started it was very immanent.  It also shows you some punishments and tells you about many others.  One consisted of tying someone to a windmill for 6 hours.  6 hours a day 7 days a week for missing the roll check.  It was pretty amazing to see how much technology they had them days and its development over the years!  Some stories were really heart-wrenching.  One story told was a man sat watching his best friend die.  The following day he drank from the shell of the bomb that killed his friend!  One where he actually worked in a psychiatric hospital after the war and he helped shell shocked people.  Some of these people, brave people may of them husbands, fathers and sons couldn’t even write home.  It affected some people to the extent of them not being able to hold their hands still or their heads.  This was very hard to read about knowing that even if you survived the war physically it killed so many mentally.  It was a war that not only physically took so many lives but mentally affected everyone involved.  It’s a very good read as it shows you angles from all points of view on and off the front line.  People who survived front line battle often got sent home to train men from the young age of 16.  I suppose the world war is one of those things, you think you fully understand it but unless you were there at the time you will never understand how hard it must have been for so many!  If you want to know what people can remember from the war read this as you get a great picture of life then!


A review of First World War Poems from the Front

For me when I read war poetry it pulls me right away, I can imagine being there on the front line, I can feel the emotion in the poets words, as ‘I’ve always wanted to be in the army since I was a bairn.  For me this is the closest I can get in my head of visualising what war is like.

A poet I’ve known about since secondary schools is Wilfred Owen in his poem Dulce et Decorum Est it really hits you in the face of most of the horrors soldiers had to go through in World War One.  One of the lines that catch my eyes in this poem is ‘He plunges at me, guttering, choking drowning’.  This line hits me because it’s explaining the horror of being gassed.  I like the bit about being patriotic for our country, it’s in Latin but I know it says on the lines of being patriotic.

To read this poetry book I get to find out as well different perspectives of men and women who fought on the front line.  In this book we have poetry from nurses, soldiers and Army Chaplaincy.

Robert Graves was in the Welch Fusiliers and became Captain he was severely injured and left for dead on recovery he became the first poet to write realistically about war and his experiences of the front line.