The Great War is currently, in the centenary years, undergoing a renaissance in public interest.
Much of that interest is expressed in a sentimental way in terms of the presumed suffering and trauma of the individual soldier. Undoubtedly serving in the trenches was a feat of endurance, and the question is often posed: ‘How did they do it?’
Peters’ second book on the war addresses just this question – how those who fought dealt with hardship, fear and death.
Its focus is on resilience and coping. It examines the attitudes and beliefs about the expression of thoughts and emotions of the Edwardian era, particularly the pervasive influence of Stoicism and the emphasis on manliness and its impact on thought and behaviour in the trenches.
It demonstrates how it is possible to misunderstand the nature of friendship as a support, or the role of religion.
If the Great War soldier’s coping mechanisms are to be understood, then we must move away from the modern view of how ‘stress’ is best dealt with and understand the sustaining power of the attitudes of the time which have somehow come to be seen as archaic and irrelevant.
Glum Heroes was published by Helion in
September 2016, and can be ordered from Amazon here:
A five star review on Amazon describes Glum Heroes thus:
‘This is one of the best books I've read on the Great War in thirty years and more of interest in it. It tells you how it was to be a human being in the conflict, and the varying responses and coping mechanisms used. And it places the emotional responses to the soldiers war into a contemporary background so we don't see things from a century ago through modern eyes. Absolutely superb.’