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Ask the author: Andrew Ferguson on Ghosts of War


Combining his interest in the First World War and his admiration for war poets, author Andrew Ferguson has produced Ghosts of War: A History of World War I in Poetry and Prose. Numerous accounts of the Great War are written from an Anglo-centric viewpoint but Ghosts of War includes global contributions and stresses the Scottish contribution to both the fighting and the poetry.

What’s the story of Ghosts of War?

There are many accounts of the First World War telling the history, examining the strategies or attempting to unravel the causes. Ghosts of War tells the story in a different way through an anthology of poetry and prose bringing to life in an approachable way not just the tragedy but the courage and humour of those who fought. 

What was the inspiration for Ghosts of War?

Most British accounts of the First World War are written from an English viewpoint. Ghosts of War attempts to redress the balance by highlighting the contribution made by Scots to both the poetry and the fighting. I thought it was time this was recognised.

Where did you do your research?

In an armchair! My extensive reading included histories of the First World War and of its causes, the poems of the War Poets and collections of the letters of those who fought.

What was the most intriguing fact or piece of information you discovered while researching for Ghosts of War and why?

The most moving moment was in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 when the dying words of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to his wife were:  ‘Sophie, Sophie, don’t die, stay alive for our children.’ Sadly his wife was already dead, killed by the assassin.

Did you change your mind while you were writing this book?

Initially I concentrated on the fighting on the Western Front and the poems of the British War Poets. However the First World War was the first global war and I extended the reach of Ghosts of War to include the fighting on the Eastern Front, in Italy and the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and the struggle for supremacy of the seas.


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