First World War Trials and Executions by Simon Webb

I’ve read a few books by this author and I liked them a lot. First World War Trials and Executions by Simon Webb* is a book about Britain’s Traitors, Spies and Killers, 1914-1918, as the subtitle suggests. It is a less known subject and, of course, I found it fascinating.

The book tells the story of the persons who were executed during the Great War. From the 51 men, the book contains the stories of about half of them, the most interesting ones, according to Webb. I imagined, before reading the book, that the majority were executed for treason, but it was not like that at all. Sometimes we forget that real life and other things happened during the war and not everything bad that happened at that time was war-related. Some of the murders described in the book are really gruesome.

I liked the short descriptions, of only a few pages for each individual. The stories are presented in chapters, according to the murder weapon, and, of course, the spies have their own chapter too. I think it’s better like that instead of presenting it chronologically as the period is very short anyway. Each chapter starts with a description of how the murders happened in general, which is useful considering that we are not familiar with the weapons used at that time, such as razors, axes, or pokers. All these items were common in all houses, as men used razors for shaving, axes to cut the wood for the fire, which was the main way people were heating their homes at that time, and pokers were too very common, to rekindle the fire.

It’s not a pleasant read, of course, some bits are graphic, but this is to be expected when it comes to murders, doesn’t it? I would highly recommend the book, it’s fascinating.

First World War Trials and Executions by Simon Webb

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen and Sword
Year it was published: 2021 (first published in 2015)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History – 20th Century
Pages: 174

About the author: Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational Supplement, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Books by him: Forgotten Slave Trade; The Analogue Revolution; Post-War Childhood; 1919: Britain’s Year of Revolution; A History of Torture in Britain; British Concentration Camps; First World War Trials and Executions; Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers; Suffragette Fascists; The Suffragette Bombers.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of First World War Trials and Executions by Simon Webb for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “First World War Trials and Executions by Simon Webb”

  • When we were children we used to have an open coal fire in the living room, with a brass matching ‘companion set’ of brush, small ash shovel, and poker, any of which would have done some serious damage if wielded in the right way. In fact I can remember being particularly naughty on one occasion and my mum smacked me across the backs of my legs with the flat part of the small shovel. I guess these days that definitely wouldn’t be allowed, but back then, it was just me getting the punishment I deserved, no lasting damage, and I really did push my luck sometimes by continually answering her back!

    An interesting book definitely and sometimes when I read about some of the horrendous things happening almost on my own doorstep, I’m not convinced that we shouldn’t still have execution for some crimes!!

    Thanks for sharing and have a good week 🙂 x

    • Capital punishment it’s a very tricky subject. I don’t think life in prison is a better option for a prisoner, I can’t see how that is more humane to keep someone locked up for years, while, of course, having to keep that person away, so they do not hurt anyone else. At the same time, the executions take their tolls on the executioners and, at the end of this book, this is talked about.

      I’m very opposed to beatings (even a smack) as a method of “educating” children. Luckily in many countries this is not accepted as it was before. A century ago smacking ones wife was accepted and now is seen as domestic violence, it’s a shame it took longer when it comes to children.

  • This sounds like an interesting book. We have a fireplace with a poker on the hearth and yes, it would make a formidable weapon. I always cringe a bit at the image of a straight razor at the throat, especially when wielded by someone other than the one getting the shave.
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    • It was a very interesting book, from domestic problems which led to murder to German-paid spies, it’s quite an array of reasons for executions. The razor looks creepy indeed.

      Love your last puzzle, so many bakes! 😀

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