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Pointillist portrait of WWI

New ‘anti-history’ trails diverse cast of 20 individuals in battle, at home

The book takes readers to some of the lesser known battlegrounds of World War I, such the East African bush. The book takes readers to some of the lesser known battlegrounds of World War I, such the East African bush. (Ullsteinn Bild)
By Matthew Price
December 4, 2011
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Military historians make sense of war, transforming the chaos of battle into an intelligible narrative. By necessity, they smooth out rough edges. War as it is written and war as it experienced are different things. In his intriguing new book on the First World War, the Swedish historian and war correspondent Peter Englund is after something different. “The Beauty and The Sorrow’’ is history in the raw, a refreshing look at the war that did so much to shape the last century.

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THE BEAUTY AND THE SORROW: An Intimate History of the First World War

By Peter Englund

Translated, from the Swedish,

by Peter Graves

Knopf, 540 pp., illustrated, $35