THE ENGLISHMEN'S DAUGHTER
FSG, Mar 2002, 24.00, 254 pp.
In 1914, a small cadre of English military was stranded behind enemy lines. The French peasants of Villeret tried to hide the soldiers from the occupying German forces. However, the German army began using the homes of the villagers to quarter their troops and living off the local economy straining the food supply. The villagers refused to turn their English “guests” over to the Germans and collectively protected them over the next two years. One of the English, Private Robert Digby even fell in love with a local girl. However, by 1916 as sustenance became a problem and the withdrawal of the occupying army seemed like it would never happen, someone broke ranks and turned in Robert and his peers. The Germans executed the English soldiers.
In high school and college World War I is a desert dry footnote starting with Ferdinand, consisting of Wilson, neutrality, and the Lusitania, and ending with the League of Nations. On the other hand, Ben Macintyre takes a relatively minuscule incident from that War and breaths life into it and for that matter any war. THE ENGLISHMAN'S DAUGHTER focus on that French incident between 1914-1916, but furbishes the audience with the underlying generalization that in war in spite of technology people count. It is the true human drama that makes history hum and enables the audience to understand the past, connects it to the present, and projects it into the future. Mr. Macintyre has written a winner that should be required reading at the military academies and included in any world history class so that we can learn in a lively exciting environment.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner