Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce (Google eBook)

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 11, 2001 - History - 224 pages
42 Reviews
It was one of history's most powerful -- yet forgotten -- Christmas stories. It took place in the improbable setting of the mud, cold rain and senseless killing of the trenches of World War I. It happened in spite of orders to the contrary by superiors; it happened in spite of language barriers. And it still stands as the only time in history that peace spontaneously arose from the lower ranks in a major conflict, bubbling up to the officers and temporarily turning sworn enemies into friends.

Silent Night, by renowned military historian Stanley Weintraub, magically restores the 1914 Christmas Truce to history. It had been lost in the tide of horror that filled the battlefields of Europe for months and years afterward. Yet in December 1914 the Great War was still young, and the men who suddenly threw down their arms and came together across the front lines -- to sing carols, exchange gifts and letters, eat and drink and even play friendly games of soccer -- naively hoped that the war would be short-lived, and that they were fraternizing with future friends.

It began when German soldiers lit candles on small Christmas trees, and British, French, Belgian and German troops serenaded each other on Christmas Eve. Soon they were gathering and burying the dead, in an age-old custom of truces. But as the power of Christmas grew among them, they broke bread, exchanged addresses and letters and expressed deep admiration for one another. When angry superiors ordered them to recommence the shooting, many men aimed harmlessly high overhead.

Sometimes the greatest beauty emerges from deep tragedy. Surely the forgotten Christmas Truce was one of history's most beautiful moments, made all the more beautiful in light of the carnage that followed it. Stanley Weintraub's moving re-creation demonstrates that peace can be more fragile than war, but also that ordinary men can bond with one another despite all efforts of politicians and generals to the contrary.

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Wonderful, thorough, interesting, and easy to read! - Goodreads
A bit difficult to read. - Goodreads
The imagery is haunting. - Goodreads

Review: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

User Review  - John Desaulniers, Jr. - Goodreads

Very good anecdotal tale of WWI, with a melancholy message of what many wished could have been. Intriguing to me was Weintraub's portrayal of the Germans as being most religious. True, they were the ... Read full review

Review: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

User Review  - Goodreads

Quite an interesting subject but unfortunately it was just a trifle repetitive. I don't know how many more times I could have read that the Germans sang 'Silent Night' and lit Christmas Trees and ... Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Stanley Weintraub is Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Penn State University and the author of notable histories and biographies including 11 Days in December, Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, MacArthur's War, Long Day's Journey into War, and A Stillness Heard Round the World: The End of the Great War. He lives in Newark, Delaware.

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