The Lost Generation: The Young Person’s Guide to World War I (2014), by award-winning Kent author, Martyn Barr, is the latest educational publication from Out of The Box Publishing. Martyn, a PR and design consultant, established Out of The Box Publishing Ltd in 2009, to produce and market his own books which, since then have included:
- Paintings in Light: The Stained Glass Windows of Canterbury (2013) – (Runner-up in Children’s Publications category, Association for Cultural Enterprises Awards, 2014);
- Garden Science: What You Need To Know To Become a Better Gardener (2013);
- To Be A Bee: A Young Person’s Guide to the Hardest Working Creatures on the Planet (2012) – (nominated for a Canterbury Culture Award in the Excellence category);
- Lewisham’s Got History! (2010);
- The Young Person’s History Guide to Canterbury (2009) – (nominated for a Canterbury Culture Award in the Excellence category. A on-going best-seller at various retail outlets throughout the city of Canterbury.)
The Lost Generation is a beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched softback publication which tells the story of World War One from a British perspective. Although the guide is aimed at young students (Key Stages 3 & 4), it also offers an excellent introduction, to such a complex period in world history, for the budding adult historian wanting to ‘dip their toe’ into this topic.
Regular readers of Come Step Back in Time will know that so far this year I have written many articles on World War One. I wish I had discovered The Lost Generation earlier, it would have saved me a lot of time (although never wasted!) ploughing through numerous academic tomes on the subject. What I really needed in the beginning was a straightforward introduction to inspire me continue on my research journey. The guide covers the war’s origins, as played out in a far-flung corner of Europe, right through to its bloody and bitter conclusion.
At a wallet-friendly price of £5.99 (including Free second class postage), The Lost Generation is an essential addition to your history bookshelf. Fifty pence from every copy sold will be donated by Martyn to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
Inside The Lost Generation, are 62 pages, over 70 photographs/illustrations and a fold-out map on the back cover – ‘Taking Sides: A Europe Divided’ – illustrating a fractured Europe divided into allied powers, central powers and neutral countries. The text is well-written and the layout is user-friendly. Some of the World War One topics Martyn covers include:
- Motives for war;
- Assassination of the Archduke and Archduchess, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, in Sarajevo;
- Home front propaganda;
- White feather campaign;
- Pals battalions;
- The ‘Old Contemptibles’;
- Key Battles on the Western Front (Mons, Marne, Ypres, Passchendaele, Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Verdun, Somme, Jutland, Camrai, Amiens);
- The Gallipoli campaign and siege of Kut-al-Amara;
- Life in the trenches;
- Women at war;
- War horses and animals on the frontline;
- Prisoners of war;
- The postal service;
Writing about The Lost Generation, Martyn comments:
A century has now passed since the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ in 1914. The fertile fields of France and Belgium, where millions died, are no longer muddy, pock-marked quagmires. Nearby, row after row of white headstones mark the spot where men (and often boys) made the ultimate sacrifice… a practice repeated in many other countries across the globe.
Providing a guide to the First World War for today’s generation has been a challenge. The Lost Generation offers an overview of the war as it progressed, as well as a series of features that help flesh out the story. It has not been possible to cover every single battle and event, but I’ve tried to include the most significant from Britain’s perspective.
(p. 4, Teachers’ Resource Guide by Martyn Barr, 2014, Out of The Box Publishing Limited)
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Martyn about his work as an author:
Why did you decide to write The Lost Generation?
“Although I am not an expert on this topic, I have always been interested in World War One and because 2014 is the 100th anniversary of its outbreak, it seemed like the right time to publish a book on this topic. It felt like a big responsibility at times, tackling such a complex topic. I wanted to write a guide, told from the British perspective which had depth and challenged the reader but didn’t go into a huge amount of detail.
I am not a teacher or a historian. I am an author with a background in writing and design. I understand how important book design is in publishing. Design layout in a book impacts upon the reader experience, it needs to be cohesive and engaging.”
Although The Lost Generation is aimed at the younger student of history, do you think it also has wider appeal?
“Yes, very much so. I always consider my readership carefully. I ask myself ‘what would they want to see inside a history book about World War One’? Modern generations of youngsters do not want to read lots and lots of text, they prefer snippets. I also wanted to produce a publication that appealed to both teenagers and adults.”
Do you offer on-line resources for teachers to accompany your publications?
“Yes we do. Supporting educational material is available to teachers after they have purchased their publication(s). We then provide password details so that they can access the relevant Resource Guide on-line. Material included in these guides is cross-curricular.”
Tell me a little bit more about your unique concept of corporate sponsorship to facilitate the publication process?
Many of our publications are sponsored by companies. As part of their package, we provide each sponsor with 500 copies of the book they have helped to publish. It is entirely up to the company concerned what they choose to do with these publications. In the case of The Lost Generation, which was sponsored by Fenwick Limited, they have decided to distribute their copies, for free, to local schools in Kent.”
Fenwick Limited chose to sponsor The Lost Generation to mark Group Trading Director Hugo Fenwick’s term as High Sheriff of Kent, 2014. He says:
I was pleased to lend my support to this project to ensure that the current generation recognises the huge sacrifices made by their forebears 100 years ago to secure their freedom. The government has pledged to fund an educational programme to create an enduring legacy and I think this book supports that admirably.
Martyn presents a brutally honest account of the First World War, and has pitched it perfectly for a teenage audience. He has managed to achieve this without dumbing down the material in any way, so I’m sure adults will enjoy reading it too.
The Lost Generation has been well-received by both the general public and historians alike. Dr Will Butler from the University of Kent at Canterbury, who also fact-checked the book prior to publication, comments:
This book is a valuable guide for a youth audience, or anyone approaching this subject for the first time. It is richly illustrated, covers a significant amount of detail, and avoids those well-trodden myths of the First World War, to provide a concise history of the topic.
Amber Rudd MP for Hastings and Rye writes:
A detailed and well-written book and resource to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Martyn has succeeded in producing a fitting tribute to all those who bravely gave their lives for our freedom.
Martyn has written a Teachers’ Resource Guide to accompany The Lost Generation. Packed full of useful support material. Upon purchase of The Lost Generation, password details to access the on-line guide can be found on p.51, it is the last word that appears on that page. Generous educational discounts are also offered to schools and colleges, depending on quantities purchased. Details of these offers together with details of how to purchase individual copies, click here.
Remembering World War I will be at the centre of this year’s event; examples from the rich collections at the Cathedral Archives will be on display to tell the story of life in the Cathedral City between 1914-1918. The exhibition will feature manuscripts, photographs and patient records illustrating the Voluntary Aid Detachment hospitals; a series of documents relating to the War Work Dept; letters from soldiers from the front; the diary of a cavalry officer and WWI pilot; artefacts relating to HMS Kent; details of how the casualties of the war were remembered, and the construction of the memorials in the Cathedral and in the City. Activities for children will include making a remembrance poppy and lavender bag.
On the evening of Tuesday 7th October, Martyn will be signing copies of The Lost Generation, at Canterbury Cathedral as part of their ‘Canterbury Cathedral in Times Past: Remembering WWI’. This free public event begins at 5.30pm with Evensong sung by the Cathedral Choir and at 6.30pm various activities and displays begin inside the Cathedral. The event ends at 8.40pm.
Canterbury Cathedral holds these open evenings annually but this year’s event commemorates World War One. Visitors will also be able to try their hand at a number of skilled crafts including applying gold leaf, carving stone, and brass rubbing. Free guided and audio tours will be on offer and there will be visits to the private chapels, the Bell Tower, the organ loft, and the choir practice room. For further information about this event, click here.