Related to: 'The War Behind the Wire'


Where Poppies Blow

John Lewis-Stempel
John Lewis-Stempel

Six Weeks

John Lewis-Stempel
John Lewis-Stempel

The extraordinary story of British junior officers in the First World War, who led their men out of the trenches and faced a life expectancy of six weeks.During the Great War, many boys went straight from the classroom to the most dangerous job in the world - that of junior officer on the Western Front. Although desperately aware of how many of their predecessors had fallen before them, nearly all stepped forward, unflinchingly, to do their duty. The average life expectancy of a subaltern in the trenches was a mere six weeks.In this remarkable book, John Lewis-Stempel focuses on the forgotten men who truly won Britain's victory in the First World War - the subalterns, lieutenants and captains of the Army, the leaders in the trenches, the first 'over the top', the last to retreat. Basing his narrative on a huge range of first-person accounts, including the poignant letters and diaries sent home or to their old schools, the author reveals what motivated these boy-men to act in such an extraordinary, heroic way. He describes their brief, brilliant lives in and out of the trenches, the tireless ways they cared for their men, and how they tried to behave with honour in a world where their values and codes were quite literally being shot to pieces.

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls has become known around the world as one of the most recognised faces of survival and outdoor adventure. His journey to this acclaim started in the UK, where his late father taught him to climb and sail. Trained from a young age in martial arts, Bear went on to spend three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces, serving with 21 SAS. It was here that he perfected many of the skills that his fans all over the world enjoy, watching him pit himself against Mother Nature. His TV show, MAN VS WILD/BORN SURVIVOR, became one of the most watched programmes on the planet with an estimated audience of 1.2 billion. He also hosts the hit adventure show RUNNING WILD on NBC in America, as well as THE ISLAND WITH BEAR GRYLLS for Channel 4 and MISSION SURVIVE WITH BEAR GRYLLS for ITV in the UK. He is currently the youngest ever Chief Scout to the UK Scout Association and is an honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos.He has authored a number of fiction and non-fiction books, including the Sunday Times top ten bestseller, GHOST FLIGHT, and the number one bestseller, MUD, SWEAT & TEARS.Find out more at or follow him on Twitter @BearGrylls

Bryan Perrett

Bryan Perrett left the army as a successful career officer to take up the pen as a full-time writer. Able to write to any brief (he was captioning picture-strips for schoolgirl comics at one point), he found his metier as a military historian and writer of good, fast, episodic, narrative popular histories. His many books, all founded on meticulous research from primary sources, find a wide popular readership. He is the bestselling author in the bestselling Cassell Military Classics series.

Bryn Hammond

Dr Bryn Hammond is a member of the Centre for First World War Studies, the British Commission for Military History and the Western Front and Gallipoli Associations. He is also joint convenor of the Imperial War Museum's History Group. He has written numerous articles about the First World War, and is a regular speaker on the subject. Cambrai 1917 is his first book.

Chloe Mayer

Chloë Mayer is a journalist, whose work has been shortlisted for several awards, including newcomer of the year and reporter of the year. She has lived and worked in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and now lives in east London, not far from where she grew up. The Boy Made of Snow is her first novel.

Clive Mantle

Clive Mantle has had TV roles in DOCTORS, CASUALTY, HOLBY CITY, THE VICAR OF DIBLEY and AFTER THOMAS. On stage he has appeared in OF MICE AND MEN, THE PLAY WHAT I WROTE, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and KILLING CASTRO. He has also read The Last Post, by Max Arthur, for Orion.

Donald Thomas

Donald Thomas (1926-) was born in Somerset and educated at Queen's College, Taunton, and Balliol College, Oxford. He holds a personal chair in the University of Wales, Cardiff, now Cardiff University. His numerous crime novels include two collections of Sherlock Holmes stories and a hugely successful historical detective series written under the pen name Francis Selwyn and featuring Sergeant Verity of Scotland Yard, as well as gritty police procedurals written under the name of Richard Dacre. He is also the author of seven biographies and a number of other non-fiction works, and won the Gregory Prize for his poems, Points of Contact. He lives in Bath with his wife.

Francesca Jakobi

Francesca studied psychology at the University of Sussex, followed by a stint teaching English in Turkey and the Czech Republic. On returning to her native London she got a job as a reporter on a local paper and has worked in journalism ever since. She's currently a layout editor at the Financial Times. Bitter is her first novel.

Guy Sajer

Sajer was a French citizen living in Alsace, who served as a foreign conscript in the German Army during World War II, fighting the Russians on the Eastern front in the Grossdeutschland Division.

Iain Ballantyne

Having written about the global activities of the Royal Navy for more than 20 years, Iain Ballantyne has spent time in most types of warship, from nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to destroyers and frigates. He has sailed in minefields off war-torn Kuwait, witnessed embargo enforcement in the Adriatic and counter-terrorism sweeps in the Mediterranean. Iain has also voyaged into Arctic waters and accompanied Royal Marines on fast boat patrols off Hong Kong. He won an award for his action-packed depiction of the pursuit and destruction of Hitler's flagship, as recounted in KILLING THE BISMARCK, his last book prior to HUNTER KILLERS for Orion. In 2017 Iain Ballantyne was awarded a Fellowship by the UK's Maritime Foundation, one of its top annual awards, in recognition of his immense contribution to the maritime cause since 1990, as a journalist, author of naval history books and Editor of WARSHIPS International Fleet Review magazine from 1998 to the present.

Ian Mackersey

Ian Mackersey is a writer and documentary film-maker; his speciality is aviation biography. He began his career as a writer for The Dominion and later the New Zealand Herald, and has lived in Britain, Rhodesia and Zambia, before returning to New Zealand.Visit his website at

John Gardner

After Colonel Sun (1968) by Kingsley Amis, John Gardner was the next writer to be asked to write further adventures of James Bond. He wrote, like Fleming, fourteen Bond books, plus novelisations of the films GoldenEye and Licence to Kill, from 1981 to 1996.Before becoming an author of fiction in the early 1960s John Gardner was variously a stage magician, a Royal Marine officer, a journalist and, for a short time, a priest in the Church of England. 'Probably the biggest mistake I ever made,' he says. 'I confused the desire to please my father with a vocation which I soon found I did not have.'In all, Gardner had fifty-five novels to his credit - many of them bestsellers. John Gardner died in 2007.For more information about John Gardner and his non-Bond works, visit his website.

John Hughes-Wilson

John Hughes-Wilson (author of Military Intelligence Blunders) and Cathryn Corns lead 'Shot at Dawn' battlefield tours through France and Flanders.

John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and, after a spell of National Service in the Navy, at New College, Oxford, where he took a degree in French and Russian. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service, where he remained for twelve years, serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. In 1964 he resigned from the service in order to write.

John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is the author of numerous anthologies and books on military history. He lives on a farm in Herefordshire with his wife and two children.Join John Lewis-Stempel on Facebook and follow him on Twitter

Max Arthur

Max Arthur is a skilled interviewer who has written oral histories of the RAF and Royal Navy during the Second World War

Paul McGann

Paul McGann trained at RADA. He came to prominence in the BBC¹s MONOCLED MUTINEER, before starring in WITHNAIL AND I with Richard E Grant. Notable Hollywood appearances have been in DOWNTIME and FAIRY TALE, A TRUE STORY. In 1996 he became the 8th incarnation of TV¹s DOCTOR WHO, followed by a lead role in OUR MUTUAL FRIEND.

Peter Hart

Peter Hart was born in 1955. He went to Liverpool University before joining the Sound Archive at the Imperial War Museum in 1981. He is now Oral Historian at the Archive. He is the author of several highly acclaimed works on the First World War.

Robert Baer

Robert Baer spent 21 years in the CIA as a field operative. He resigned after leading an aborted attempt on Saddam Hussein. He is the author of four NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers. His memoir SEE NO EVIL was made into the Academy Award-winning movie SYRIANA. He anchored an Emmy-nominated British documentary series, THE CULT OF THE SUICIDE BOMBER. He is the intelligence columnist for and a regular BBC and CNN contributor. He currently lectures various US government agencies on assassination.