At eleven o'clock on the morning of the 11th November 1919 the entire British Empire came to a halt to remember the dead of the Great War. During that first two-minute silence all transport stayed still, all work ceased and millions stood motionless in the streets. The only human sound to be heard was the desolate weeping of those overcome by grief. Then the moment was brought to an end by the playing of the Last Post. A century on, that lone bugle call remains the most emotionally charged piece of music in public life. In an increasingly secular society, it is the closest thing we have to a sacred anthem. Yet along with the poppy, the Cenotaph and the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, its power is profoundly modern. It is a response to the trauma of war that could only have evolved in a democratic age. In this moving exploration of the Last Post's history, Alwyn W. Turner considers the call's humble origins and shows how its mournful simplicity reached beyond class, beyond religion, beyond patriotism to speak directly to peoples around the world.
Along the way he contemplates the relationship between history and remembrance, and seeks out the legacy of the First World War in today's culture.
Publisher: Aurum Press
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 400 g
Dimensions: 188 x 135 x 25 mm
'Alwyn W Turner's The Last Post squeezes a huge amount of detail and insight from 25 bars of music.' -- Stuart Kelly The Scotsman's Books of the Year "Completely fascinating book. And the tune's power to move goes beyond nationality or creed: as Turner writes, in his beautifully clear and controlled style: 'It has spanned the globe, becoming a mournful lament for the dead that has been adopted by governments of all colours, and by individuals and groups of every persuasion: by imperialists and pacifists, by conservatives, communists and fascists, by Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim and atheist. As you might expect, The Last Post is full of touching moments.' -- Craig Brown Mail on Sunday, 5***** 'A narrative about the shaping of Armistice observance... well told ... with a good eye for quirky detail' -- Peter Parker Sunday Telegraph