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Minds at War - a pioneering volume of First World War poetry when it was introduced in 1996 and still at the forefront of First World War poetry anthologies. One of the largest collections of First World War poetry and accompanied by the history and historical documents and records that set the poems in context in a straightforward and highly readable text.

"My students are devouring it faster than I can assign readings. This is a great collection."   -  Thomas H Crofts, Assistant Professor of English, East Tenessee State University. 

A reader comment


Key Features of Minds at War

A richly insightful and comprehensive anthology of First World War poetry - in all 250 poems by 80 poets.

The poems are presented in historical context with extracts from contemporary records, press reports and commentaries, poets’ letters, diaries and personal accounts. These deepen our understanding of the poets, their poetry and the changing attitudes of society during the First World War.

Together, the poetry and the prose extracts illuminate the experience and thinking of British people during the First World War. Minds at War provides an ideal introduction to the poetry and history of The First World War for the advanced student.

This moving, fascinating and encyclopaedic volume includes:

  • The great classic poems of the war by Owen, Sassoon, Brooke, Rosenberg, Sorley, Gurney, Thomas, Blunden, Binyon, McCrae, Grenfell, Seeger, Kipling, and others

  • Poems by 26 women poets, and 40 other significant poets

  • “Lost” verse that enjoyed extraordinary popularity 
    during the First World War 

  • Extracts from diaries, personal letters and accounts of poets and others

  • Pronouncements by the media, leading commentators and politicians of the day

  • "Poets used for propaganda"

  • Historic photographs and cartoons

  • Maps, biographies, glossary, bibliography, additional illustrations

* One poem, by John Oxenham, is reputed to have sold 8 million copies during the war 
** Wilfred Owen (generally regarded as the greatest of all war poets writing in English), 26 poems, the poems on which his reputation is founded. 
Siegfried Sassoon (unrivalled for his honest record of his changing views and feelings, a record spanning the entire war), 33 poems.

It is both a resource book and fascinating read for everyone interested in the poetry, poets and experience of the First World War.

An established key text for the war poetry section of every library that caters for students of literature and the general public.

A widely used and studied book at university level and pre-university level in Britain and America. An invaluable source book for poems and background information for teachers of war poetry and peace studies. 

Valuable too for history students seeking to understand British society during the 1914-1918 war.

Publication Facts

410 pages  Paperback   -    9x6"  234x156mm  -  Illustrated with archive photographs and cartoons
ISBN 978 0 952 8969 0 6   Edited by David Roberts









Comments on Minds at War

Comments Minds at War

.An Amazon review  -  S. A. Hole  -  Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 December 2016 Verified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars
"unbelievable book, not just all the poems but also all the other information about what went on in the first world war - a must read, i went from cover to cover in no time. fab book."

"I value this book: it's not only (uniquely) comprehensive, but enlightened and genuinely innovative in its integration of poetry with context." - Felicity Currie, author of Textwise Study Guides to English literature*, former assistant chief examiner in A level English Literature, university lecturer.

"Let me say how much I admire Minds at War. I am using it in a freshman  honors  course this semester—dealing with poetry, art & philosophy surrounding WW  -  and my students are devouring it faster than I can assign the readings. This is a great collection, and heartbreakingly relevant to the US wars in Iraq & Afghanistan."  -  Thomas H Crofts, Assistant Professor of English, East Tennessee State University.

"I use David Roberts’ excellent anthologies [Minds at War and Out in the Dark] with all my English Literature classes.
The poems and extracts are very well chosen. There are excellent explanatory notes that help all readers to enter the cultural and social world of the Great War. They are especially useful for GCSE. I recommend them highly. 
There are not just poems, but moving and descriptive extracts from contemporary letters and diaries, that will appeal to all students, of all levels and ages, - especially me! I have learned a great deal from these anthologies. I wish they had been around when I was young.
They [Minds at War and Out in the Dark] are really quite the best anthologies of this nature I have ever come across. All my favourites were in both, which does not often happen."
Michael Brett, Head of English and Drama, Homefield School, Surrey.

"I continue to be impressed by the blend of poems famous and others not well-known but illuminating, and the inclusion of citations from politicians, newspapers, etc, that will save hours of classroom explanation."  -  Christopher Armitage
Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of English, Adjunct Professor of Peace, War and Defense, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

"[With Out in the Dark,] Minds at War . . . puts many other First World War anthologies into the shade." - Gordon Hodgson, in National Association of Teachers of English web review on

"Minds at War is no mere anthology but a comprehensive overview of the poetry and experience of the First World War. It includes the poets and poems one would expect to find plus a number of lesser practitioners and some outright surprises. David Roberts sets the poems and the poets' lives within a contextual commentary which keeps the story of the war moving forward and provides as many useful historic insights as poetic." - Peter Carter,The John Masefield Society Newsletter.

An Amazon review  -  chauvesouris

5.0 out of 5 stars The Colors of Black

Reviewed in the United States on 16 April 2015

Verified Purchase

"This book sits on the table of my 'reading nook'. I have turned through its pages, have devoured the poetry of those who were devoured by "the first of the last wars," and each time I put the book down I am in awe of what I have read. Emotions that seem beyond words are, here, wrapped by words so well that one feels the sadness, the hurt, the fury, the emptiness, the cynicism, fatalism - and joy - whispered or shouted here. There are wars, non-stop, but this war, an explosion of political tectonic shifts, was a stagnating horror. And these poems, written by some who were killed or died before the war's end, turns history into reality.

And it helps greatly that there is 'background' provided for the poems, overviews of what was happening against which the poems take place, so that one can read from start to finish or read as one does books of poems, 'here and there.' As I'm reading these while reading other books about WWI, this book gives jolting colors to the historical perspectives - and what colors!"

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