Peace at Last
A Portrait of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918
Imprint: Yale University Press
Each year since we have marked the end of the war with tributes and remembrance, solemnity and respect. But as Peace at Last reveals, the first Armistice Day in 1918 was entirely unprecedented and extraordinary. Upon hearing the news of the peace, crowds of people took to the streets, scaled statues, burnt effigies on bonfires and ran riot as joy and relief swept through the British population and the wider world.
Drawing on news reports, literature, memoirs and letters, Cuthbertson brings to the fore the full strangeness of the day - its celebratory, wild atmosphere - and the experiences of ordinary people as well as soldiers and prominent figures like D. H. Lawrence, Robert Graves and David Lloyd George. Cuthbertson takes us from midnight to midnight - from when the Armistice was signed to the removing of black paint from streetlamps, flooding cities with light.
Peace at Last is the compelling portrait of one of the most important days in history - an exciting and inspiring moment which has, until now, remained relatively unknown.
“Absorbing and well-researched. . . a pleasure to read and full of fascinating tidbits."—Brendan Simms, Wall Street Journal
"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."—Robert Fox, Evening Standard
“Superbly researched and exhaustive survey of the day the Great War ended”—Simon Heffer, Literary Review
“The book is thoughtful but easy to read.” — Jad Adams, Who Do You Think You Are
“Rich and lively written” —Neil Sharkey, Remembrance
Peace at Last is a well-written, intensely researched piece of work”— Phil Carradice, Siegfried’s Journal
“Informed and absorbing account of the day of the Armistice” —Nicholas Murray, Friends Of The Dymock Poets
“Marvellous book” —Clothes In Books
“Cuthbertson has provided a detailed account of how that day was experienced by people at the time, attempting to avoid the retrospection of the Second World War that has undoubtedly altered the way Armistice Day has been understood in popular memory [. . .] it is an important contribution to the literature”— History Reviews of New Books
“Guy Cuthberston’s extraordinary and moving book… offers an almost overwhelming sense of the magnitude of History…By presenting one single day in fragmentary form…[this book] is a work of historical philosophy, as much as a record of one particular day.”—Christine E. Hallet, The Historian
“With beautiful and detailed prose, Cuthbertson creates a work of narrative history reminiscent of Barbara Tuchman and nearly impossible to put down.”—Nicoletta F. Gullace, Journal of British Studies
“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
“Cuthbertson combines the curiosity of the biographer and the delicacy of the literary historian to recover the life-story of a single day. Imaginative, moving and brilliantly researched, Peace at Last brings together ordinary men, women and children as well as artists and writers in a novel way to help us better understand an extraordinary day in world history.”—Santanu Das, author of Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature