Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth

An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900-1925

Book - 2005
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Penguin Putnam
Now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Hayley Atwell, and Taron Egerton

In 1915 Vera Brittain abandoned her studies at Oxford to enlist as a nurse in the armed forces, serving in London, in Malta, and at the Western Front in France. By war’s end, all those closest to her were dead, and she had witnessed firsthand the destruction and suffering of modern combat.

Much of what we know and feel about the First World War we owe to Brittain’s Testament of Youth. In this elegiac yet unsparing memoir, Brittain focused on the men and women who came of age as war broke out, exploring their politics, their hopes, and their fatal idealism. Acclaimed by the Times Literary Supplement as a book that helped “both form and define the mood of its time,” this searing portrait is also a testament to every generation irrevocably changed by war.

Baker & Taylor
Recounts the author's experiences as a field nurse in London, Malta, and the Western Front during World War I, exploring the politics, hopes, and fatal idealism of the British youth when war broke out.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2005, c1933
ISBN: 9780143108382
Branch Call Number: BIO Brittain BRI
Characteristics: xix, 661 p. ;,20 cm.


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Nov 12, 2014

An emotional account of the Great War, 1914-18, through the eyes of a young, intelligent girl who is driven by the causes of her day.

Her account of how British women got the vote in the early years of the 20th century is fascinating, as Vera was indeed one of the leaders of that movement. Her memories of losing all the young men who mattered to her in her own life paralleled the loss of a generation of young women. Finally, Vera’s decision to transfer her sphere of study from Literature to history so that she could understand better why the war was fought and channel the outcome of the conflict led her to become an expert in the league of Nations and a voice for women’s issues everywhere.

A wonderful women whose daughter continued in her footsteps, the two made a mark on women’s rights in today’s world and deserve to be remembered proudly.

Fascinating reading as an historical account through the eyes of one who was there. But the book can be heavy slugging at times, with much detail and poetic waxing. It was written in the days of Downton Abbey and must be enjoyed as a window on the past.

Apr 17, 2012

I very much enjoyed Brittain's style, her unbridled energy, her determined feminism, her sense of adventure. She does this in a colourful, descriptive style. There is much honesty and pure emotion, both positive and negative, which plunge the reader in the heart of her life: its miseries as well as its successes. While I appreciate this book is valuable as a detailed description of the times, I sometimes found it long and I slogged through many chapters: the dull years in France, the combative political implications. For historians, it is doubtless gold; for the fiction reader that I am, it is at times rather tedious. This doesn't take away, however, from the fact that Brittain is an exceptional woman of courage and strength, one who has done much for women's rights and one who has given a voice to an entire generation.

ragamuffin Oct 05, 2010

This is a beautifully written and moving book, it gives a real sense of what it was like growing up during the First World War and the terrible toll it took on people.

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