FULL OF HOPE AND FEAR
The Great War Letters of an Oxford Family

Edited by MARGARET BONFIGLIOLI and JAMES MUNSON
448pp 23 ILLUS 2014 LIST PRICE: £25.00 B835

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The Slaters -- the family at the heart of these letters -- lived in Oxford. Gilbert, the father, had been head of Ruskin College, and during the war found work as the first Professor of Indian Economics in Madras. His wife, Violet, grew to detest the war and became a vocal pacifist as the slaughter continued. Owen, their eldest son, a schoolboy in 1914, was fighting in France by war's end. In these letters to each other and to their friends we see how the war increasingly impacted upon each of their lives and the life of the world around them -- rationing, Violet's involvement in radical politics, the deaths of friends, the fear of Zeppelin raids, the endless discussions about how to keep their son out of the trenches -- and the growth of Owen from schoolboy to soldier, serving as a junior officer on the Western Front. Above all, in their privacy and immediacy, their inconsistencies and false hopes, the letters bring us as near as we can ever be to understanding what people thought, feared and hoped for during these momentous years.

The value lies in the unmediated directness. OXFORD TODAY