The Searchers: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War (Hardback)
  • The Searchers: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War (Hardback)
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The Searchers: The Quest for the Lost of the First World War (Hardback)

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Hardback 368 Pages
Published: 30/09/2021
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Waterstones Says

Exploring the extraordinary resilience and determination of those dedicating their lives to finding and identifying soldiers declared missing in the First World War, Sackville-West’s meticulously researched volume is a powerful meditation on the legacy of war and a search that continues to this day.

By the end of the First World War, the whereabouts of more than half a million British soldiers were unknown. Most were presumed dead, lost forever under the battlefields of northern France and Flanders. In The Searchers, Robert Sackville-West brings together the extraordinary, moving accounts of those who dedicated their lives to the search for the missing.

These stories reveal the remarkable lengths to which people will go to give meaning to their loss: Rudyard Kipling's quest for his son's grave; E.M. Forster's conversations with traumatised soldiers in hospital in Alexandria; desperate attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead; the campaign to establish the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; and the exhumation and reburial in military cemeteries of hundreds of thousands of bodies.

It was a search that would span a century: from the department set up to investigate the fate of missing comrades in the war's aftermath, to the present day, when DNA profiling continues to aid efforts to recover, identify and honour these men. As the rest of the country found ways to repair and move on, countless families were consumed by this mission, undertaking arduous, often hopeless, journeys to discover what happened to their husbands, brothers and sons.

Giving prominence to the deep, personal battles of those left behind, The Searchers brings the legacy of war vividly to life in a testament to the bravery, compassion and resilience of the human spirit.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781526613158
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 726 g
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

This carefully researched and beautifully written book reveals the determination of the families of those who have lost loved ones killed in war to find out what happened to them and where their bodies lie. Each year at the Cenotaph, a memorial whose origins are described here in fascinating detail, we see the public manifestation of a private grief that never fades. There may be a commemorative tomb in Westminster Abbey but there is in truth, as Sackville-West explains, no such thing as an Unknown Warrior - David Dimbleby

A deeply sad but fascinating topic ... Beautifully written - Michael Portillo, TimesRadio

Remarkable - John Carey, Sunday Times

Robert Sackville-West writes tenderly about death and remembrance ... Sackville-West handles this grim subject with grace. The excruciatingly personal stories he tells convey perfectly that desperate need for closure that so many grieving relatives felt ... His gentle book is fascinating, but never sensational or gratuitously maudlin - Gerard DeGroot, The Times

Carefully researched and utterly riveting - Sunday Telegraph

I'm not sure that anyone before has so powerfully captured the inclusive humanity of the Commission's work or the immense psychological trauma that it had to address ... This is an outstanding book, written with a richness of detail that never clogs the narrative and, above all, a human sympathy and understanding perfectly matched to its subject - Literary Review

A fascinating, moving account … A hidden piece of First World War history is revealed in this sensitive and engrossing study - i paper

Deeply moving ... [Sackville-West documents] all these grim stories with compassion - Daily Mail

A scholarly and moving account of those who searched, privately and officially – and still search – for the missing … Reflects on the meaning of the war’s sacrifice and how to commemorate it - Country Life

Sackville-West faithfully and sensitively chronicles the searchers' work in a fascinating and moving account of a most fundamental, yet most overlooked, aspect of the Great War - The Scotsman

The Searchers tells the tale of the extraordinary efforts ... to track down those missing servicemen ... It is a tale of how a dedicated and diverse group of people worked to give closure to the millions of individuals who lost a relative during the conflict - City A.M.

Balanced and perfectly pitched - David Crane, Spectator, Books of the Year

[A] poignant account - Sunday Express, Christmas Picks

A fascinating history of the efforts to find and identify the bodies of missing First World War soldiers, both while the conflict raged and today: several dozen are still found each year - Daily Telegraph, Books for Christmas

A poignant and fascinating account - Daily Mirror

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“An important book”

For the last 100 years, since the end of the first World War, the search has continued for those british men who were reported missing in action. This book looks at those searches, using real accounts and person... More

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