Peace at Last

Peace at Last

My new book, Peace at Last: A Portrait of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, was published by Yale University Press in October 2018 (£18.99 in hardback).  The audiobook was published in December 2018.  The paperback will be published in 2022.

‘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’. (The Literary Review, November 2018)

‘It is accessible history at its best’  (The Evening Standard, 8 November 2018)

‘With beautiful and detailed prose, Cuthbertson creates a work of narrative history reminiscent of Barbara Tuchman and nearly impossible to put down.’ (The Journal of British Studies, 2020)



also see Peace at Last Reviews 


This book will look in detail at the celebrations and in doing so expose a key moment in history – one that is entertaining, enlightening and culturally significant. What can also be revealed through focusing on the celebrations is something truly uplifting and inspiring, namely people’s ability to hope, to look to the future after the worst of wars, to express joy at being alive, and to celebrate other people’s good luck, even if their own had been worse. The following pages cover the day of the Armistice itself, the very last day of war, the first day of peace, from midnight to midnight, exploring the saddening last hours of fighting and then the pivotal moment when, at 11 a.m., the famous men and the fighting stepped aside, allowing peace and the people – and instinct and faith, tears and laughter, light and sound – to take over through the afternoon and into the evening. (‘Great Rejoicings’)


Read an extract on the Yale site and in Lapham’s Quarterly.




‘[Cuthbertson’s] 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)

‘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)

‘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)

‘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)

‘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)

‘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)



It is available to buy from various bookshops, including Barnes & Noble, Blackwell’sWaterstones, Amazon or your local independent bookshop.

Audiobook: Tantor, Audible, Amazon, Storytel.