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Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub

Silent Night (edition 2002)

by Stanley Weintraub

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4551422,893 (3.49)37
Title:Silent Night
Authors:Stanley Weintraub
Info:Simon & Schuster (2002), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:WWI, history, Christmas truce 1914

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Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub



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In the heat of the battle form moving a few yards forward the war took a break that made plain the insanity of it all. Men came out of the trenches on both sides of the conflict and celebrated Christmas together in "no mans land" with singing and exchanging of gifts if ever so small. ( )
  david__clifford | Feb 3, 2016 |
It is with awe that people speak of the unprecedented Christmas Eve truce amongst those all along the Western Front in 1914, the first winter of World War I. Nothing like it had ever been seen before or since. The German troops risked life and limb to place their Christmas trees along the parapets and trenches. Guns fell silent, replace by the sound of voices raised in harmony to sing carols. Men from oppossing forces came together,, crossing into No-Man's Land to exchange gifts of cigarrettes and Christmas treats sent from home. It is a singularly unique event in the history of war.

This makes for a fascinating topic, but sadly a not so fascinating book. The book is simply a collection of anecdotes, letters from or to soldiers, fictional accounts of this event, and memories of the soldiers who were there, even references to soongs in which it is mentioned (think Snoopy and the Red Baron). While at first this was interesting, by page 50 it had become quite repetitive. By page 175 it was tedious. Thanfully that was the end. The book is very well-researched with a thorough bibliography. I really wish I could have rated this book higher. I wanted to like it, but in the end it just didn't work for me. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This account of the spontaneous World War I Christmas truce is mildly disappointing. Had I not read other World War I histories earlier this year, I wouldn't have had enough context for the events described in the book. It also bothered me that Weintraub intersperses accounts of fictional characters with those of real people. I had a hard time sorting out which events were real and which were fictional but based on real events. I think it would have been better if Weintraub had discussed fictional accounts of the truce in a single chapter. The book is worth reading for those with a strong interest in the topic, but readers should already have a basic familiarity with World War I history and chronology. ( )
  cbl_tn | Dec 10, 2014 |
This is an enjoyable and well written account of the 1914 truce that happened during World War 1 on the Western Front in the improbable setting of the trenches. Time and again Stanley Weintraub uncovers examples of how, despite orders from senior officers, the troops in the trenches came together to sing carols, exchange gifts, eat and drink together, and even play football. In most of these examples the troops discovered how alike they were and how much they shared in common.

I am not sure this subject warrants a whole book and there is quite a bit of repetition as Stanley Weintraub gives numerous different examples of the different ways the truce occurred in different parts of the Western Front.

The book concludes with a short chapter titled "What if....?" in which Stanley Weintraub speculates what might have happened had the war ended with the 1914 Christmas truce which felt a bit pointless.

Interesting, if inessential.

3/5 ( )
1 vote nigeyb | Apr 15, 2014 |
Interesting and well enough written. Felt more like a collection of snapshots than a book. For a wonk like me, good. For a more casual reader, I doubt it. ( )
  Whiskey3pa | Oct 17, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452283671, Paperback)

History is peppered with oddments and ironies, and one of the strangest is this. A few days before the first Christmas of that long bloodletting then called the Great War, hundreds of thousands of cold, trench-bound combatants put aside their arms and, in defiance of their orders, tacitly agreed to stop the killing in honor of the holiday.

That informal truce began with small acts: here opposing Scottish and German troops would toss newspapers, ration tins, and friendly remarks across the lines; there ambulance parties, clearing the dead from the barbwire hell of no man's land, would stop to share cigarettes and handshakes. Soon it spread, so that by Christmas Eve the armies of France, England, and Germany were serenading each other with Christmas carols and sentimental ballads and denouncing the conflict with cries of "Á bas la guerre!" and "Nie wieder Krieg!" The truce was, writes Stanley Weintraub, a remarkable episode, and, though "dismissed in official histories as an aberration of no consequence," it was so compelling that many who observed it wrote in near-disbelief to their families and hometown newspapers to report the extraordinary event.

In the end, writes Weintraub, the truce ended with a few stray bullets that escalated into total war, and that would fill the air for just shy of four more Christmases to come; further, isolated attempts at informal peacemaking would fail. But what, Weintraub wonders at the close of this inspired study, would have happened if the soldiers on both sides had refused to take up arms again? His counterfactual scenarios are intriguing, and well worth pondering. -- Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This 'moving story of horror taking a holiday" (People) vividly recounts one of history's most powerful Christmas stories. Using the stories of the men who were there, Weintraub illuminates this extraordinary moment in time.

(summary from another edition)

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