Book Review: Peace on Earth by David Boyle.

Peace on Earth: The Christmas Truce of 1914.

  • Format: Kindle Editionxmastruce
  • File Size: 511 KB
  • Print Length: 71 pages
  • Publisher: Endeavour Press (30 Nov 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00QFN18Z2

Most people seem to have some opinion about the “Christmas Truce”, from conspiracy theorists to idealists, it’s not a subject that has gone unnoticed in the 100 years since it happened.
In fact for those of us with only a basic knowledge of the “Great War” this event has attained such an, almost mythical status that many of us must have wondered “So what’s the deal with that then?”.
David Boyle has written a delightful little “Kindle Single” about the Christmas Truce of 1914. It is short, I read it easily within one day in two sittings, but it’s good stuff and if you’ve been mulling over what your opinion is on those controversial centenary TV ads then I think I’ve found a good Wikipedia alternate.
Boyle presents us with a fluid narrative heavily salted with good first hand account backup that is necessary for the telling of this story. Yet the author isn’t trying to put a spin on the legendary tale, or framing a personal opinion, he’s presenting what is generally known about the truce basically in the way people saw it back then. He doesn’t question sources, he doesn’t dig too deeply beyond what they say, it’s certainly not a myth busting job, once or twice he hints at odd coincidences but never over indulges in deep analysis.
The truce is shown here coming not out of a mad spontaneous rush of goodwill all along the line, but as an sporadic, semi predictable series of random events over the period from 24th to about the 30th and the New Year, that were something of a natural progression of the behaviour of many front line units on both sides during the winter of 1914.
In a short space of time Boyle gives us the “Deal” about what happened, what it meant to people, from rank and file to the high command and, what effect the spirit that sparked it affected the next few years of the war.
Don’t get the impression that it’s a syrupy waffle of sentiment, the poignancy of the thing is that for the men in many sectors it was business and usual, it is a brief attempt to show the truce in the way people saw it, leaving the reader to achieve their own opinion about it and about how to proceed from here. For those interested in finding out more there’s a helpful sources page at the back.

I found this one of the best E-reads I’ve ever read, well researched, thoughtfully written and convincingly told. It’s a great light Christmas read for military history fans, and would make an equally nice gift, and I highly recommend it for people wanting a little background and perspective.

Merry Christmas.

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