Book Review: Posters of the Great War


by Frédérick Hadley & Martin Pegler

Barnsley, S. York.: Pen & Sword / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2013. Pp. 160. Illus. $34.95. ISBN:1781592896

Graphic Art in Support of the War Effort

Drawing on the collections of the Historial de la Grande Guerre, a Great War museum in Peronne, historians Hadley (La grande guerre de Léon Moulènes, etc.) and Pegler  (Soldiers' Songs and Sland of the Great War, etc.I), present a selection and analysis of scores of posters related to the 1914-1918 conflict. The collection includes not only specifically propagandistic posters, but public announcements, commercial advertisements, and others that related to the war. While the Western Front powers are the focus of the book, there is some coverage of the other fronts as well. This is not merely a collection of pictures of posters. 

After an introduction about the work and collections of the Historial de la Grande Guerre the book has seven chapters. 

  • Calls for enlistments,
  • Appeals for war loans,
  • Snap Shots of military life,
  • Attacks on the enemy,
  • Depiction of family life and matters related to the home front,
  • Motion picture advertisements, and
  • Post-war posters dealing with demobilization, memory, and so forth.

All the chapters are illustrated with appropriate posters, some of them outstanding works, many of which are in color. The first six chapters discuss how posters were used to further that particular aspect of the war effort. The the final chapter discusses their use in helping to raise consciousness about the plight of veterans, the need to help rebuild, and, in Germany, the need for vengeance. Thus this is much more than a picture book of old posters, but a valuable contribution to how posters played an important part in war making.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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