Peace at Last reviews

Peace at Last reviews

‘Book of the Week’, The Evening Standard

‘Books of the Year’, The Daily Telegraph

‘Best Books of 2018’, Gulf News

Best Books of 2018’ (‘the books we’ll be reading in 2018’), The New Statesman

‘[a] brilliant portrayal of Britain on the day that peace broke out; when people could believe there was an end to the war to end all wars. He weaves a wonderful tapestry of the mood and events across the country, drawing on a wide range of local and regional newspapers. It is accessible history at its best. […] outstanding […] wonderfully stimulating’ (The Evening Standard, 8 November)

‘In his absorbing and well-researched study, Mr. Cuthbertson, a professor of literature at Liverpool Hope University, shows how a day of spontaneity was tamed over time, as celebration morphed into commemoration. […] “Peace at Last,” despite its sometimes grim subject, is a pleasure to read and is full of fascinating tidbits.’ (The Wall Street Journal, 12 November)

‘Guy Cuthbertson’s superbly researched and exhaustive survey of the day the Great War ended […] One of the strengths of this fine book is that the reader has the sensation that he or she actually took part in what, at the time, was regarded as the greatest day in the history of the world […] extensive context and understanding […] Cuthbertson sets the scene expertly […] this is as definitive a work as one could wish for about the day that saw the end of what was supposedly the war to end all wars.’ (The Literary Review, November 2018)

‘The other big anniversary is the end of the First World War. Peace at Last by Guy Cuthbertson (Yale University Press, October) uses letters, diaries and newspapers to build an hour-by-hour account of “how the people of Britain experienced the moment that peace became a reality”.’ (The New Statesman, January 2018, ‘Best Books of 2018’, ‘the books we’ll be reading in 2018’)

‘A novel and wide-ranging examination of the conclusion of the war once solemnly declared to be the one to end all wars.’ (Kirkus)

‘With beautiful and detailed prose, Cuthbertson creates a work of narrative history reminiscent of Barbara Tuchman and nearly impossible to put down.  The vividness with which Cuthbertson recounts this day draws the reader along on the shoulders of the crowd. Despite the fact that Cuthbertson spends nearly three hundred pages telling the story of only one day, the nuance and color of that compelling description offers insights into a carnivalesque street culture, overpowering personal relief, and the ability of Britons to behave “out of character” on this most exceptional of days. […] In doing so, he offers some subtle but important historiographical insights. Cuthbertson’s work adds to a substantial body of scholarly literature that traces the way the so-called orthodox interpretation of the Great War, classically expounded by Paul Fussell, eclipsed equally prevalent memories of the war as a “job” that “had to be done” and as an experience men and women were proud to have been part of.’ (Journal of British Studies, October 2020)

‘Guy Cuthbertson has diligently scoured newspapers, diaries, memoirs and not a little poetry of the period.  The book is thoughtful but easy to read’ (Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, November 2018)

‘Cuthbertson has worked hard in assembling his impressionistic picture from scores of first-hand manuscript and published accounts […] The result is often memorable and moving.’  (The Spectator, 10 November 2018)

‘Guy Cuthbertson’s enthralling book […] a well written, intensely researched piece of work.  It is an underlining of four terrible years of hardship and pain – essential reading for anyone interested in the Great War and its participants.’ (Siegfried’s Journal, journal of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship, Winter 2019)

‘Beginning with the signing of the Armistice and its terms, it employs an impressive range of material from newspapers, diaries, letters, and broadcasts to present a dramatic and well told story full of contrast.’  (The Western Front Association)

‘this vivid picture of the British response to the end of the war’ (Publishers’ Weekly, 3 December 2018)

‘Cuthbertson’s rich and lively written portrait […] [an] evocative description of the rejoicing […].  Today’s solemn Remembrance Day commemorations are, as Cuthbertson eruditely observes, almost the opposite of the wild celebrations that greeted news of the armistice in 1918.’ (Remembrance, November 2018)

Peace at Last is a good read for those interested in the Great War or in postwar commemoration and memorialization.’ (StrategyPage)

‘this compelling book […] absorbing […] the Armistice really comes to life’ (Albion Magazine, Winter 2019)

‘Students of the Great War will take from Peace as Last an appreciation of the capacity of human beings to find hope and meaning even in a self-inflicted disaster recently concluded.’ (Michigan War Studies Review, 2020).

‘Starting at midnight, and continuing to the evening’s celebrations, this rich and illuminating portrait of 11th November 1918 examines how the people of Britain and the wider world reacted to the news of peace, drawing together news reports, poems, literary snippets and statements from politicians to recreate the atmosphere of the day itself’ (The Bookseller)

‘Guy Cuthbertson’s informed and absorbing account of the day of the Armistice […] a comprehensive, nationwide picture of that extraordinary “day of noise” […] his interpretation is always tactful and balanced […] The book is an exercise in (jargon-free) cultural decoding of the meanings of the day’ (Journal of the Friends of the Dymock Poets)

‘This marvellous book – produced for the Armistice centenary last year – looks at contemporary reports of the celebrations for the end of World War 1 in the UK, and gives them shape and purpose. […] Peace At Last is a monumental achievement. It contains a huge amount of research, brilliantly put together – I am in awe at the way Guy Cuthbertson managed the material, putting the right things together, and painting such an extraordinary and indelible picture of the whole 24 hours. You feel the movement through the day from early in the morning (before the signing), the rumours and then the confirmation that the war was over, then the celebrations continuing into the night. […] This is a wonderful and revelatory book, and anyone at all interested in history should read it.’  (Clothes in Books)

Recommended, and Editors’ Top 75 Community College Resources (CHOICE, April 2019)

‘A lively, comprehensive view of the Armistice celebration’ (Canada 1919, UBC Press 2020)

Peace at Last is a very readable book that sustains interest through expressive prose, illuminating juxtapositions, and an engaging use of source material. […] it is an important contribution to the literature and will be of interest to historians, literary critics, and general readers interested in the First World War.’ (History: Reviews of New Books)

‘Guy Cuthbertson’s extraordinary and moving book […] this fascinating book […] a fascinating portrait of early 20th-century Britain’  (The Historian)

‘fascinating […] Peace at Last marks the end of the World War I centennial with an appropriate look back at the hopes and disappointments of that single day in history. Cuthbertson’s narrative is highly readable for historians and casual readers alike, and it contributes to the continuing discussion of the World War I and its historical significance.’  (The Journal of American History)


‘In his compelling study Peace At Last, Guy Cuthbertson combines the curiosity of the biographer and the delicacy of the literary historian to recover the life-story of a single day – 11 November 1918 – in all its sensuous detail and incorrigible plurality. Drawing on a remarkable range of sources, he takes us on a rare journey across the nation and beyond, from the silence of the front and the myriad noises and interruptions at home that morning to bonfires and music-making through the night to plunge us into the minutiae of human emotions: disbelief, joy, abandon, but also grief and mourning. Imaginative, moving and brilliantly researched, this book brings together ordinary men, women and children as well as artists and writers in a novel way to understand and evoke an extraordinary day in world history.’ (Santanu Das, author of Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature)

‘A timely contribution to our understanding of the First World War through the lens of its final day, Peace at Last chronicles a range of voices and experiences that have not been brought together before. It is a fascinating read.’ (Jane Potter, author of Boys in Khaki, Girls in Print: Women’s Literary Responses to the Great War 1914-1918)

Peace at Last offers a fresh, vivid, and deeply researched analysis of the British experience on Armistice Day 1918. The book is a delight to read: full of perceptive commentary and arresting detail.’ (David Stevenson, author of With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918)

‘Cuthbertson is a superb biographer, and his panoramic new book gives us the biography—so to speak—of Armistice Day. It is the most complete account so far of a day that, even a century later, shows no sign of loosening its hold on our cultural memory.’ (Tim Kendall, author of Modern English War Poetry)

‘A poignant account of 11 November 1918, the day of great rejoicing that marked the Armistice on the Western Front.  Often neglected, “passed over in a leap from the war to Versailles”, Cuthbertson explores the events of Armistice Day in great, moving detail.’ (Nick Lloyd, author of Hundred Days: The End of the Great War)


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