We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781409102144

Price: £12.99

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

The extraordinary story of British junior officers in the First World War, who led their men out of the trenches and faced a life expectancy of six weeks.

During the Great War, many boys went straight from the classroom to the most dangerous job in the world – that of junior officer on the Western Front. Although desperately aware of how many of their predecessors had fallen before them, nearly all stepped forward, unflinchingly, to do their duty. The average life expectancy of a subaltern in the trenches was a mere six weeks.

In this remarkable book, John Lewis-Stempel focuses on the forgotten men who truly won Britain’s victory in the First World War – the subalterns, lieutenants and captains of the Army, the leaders in the trenches, the first ‘over the top’, the last to retreat. Basing his narrative on a huge range of first-person accounts, including the poignant letters and diaries sent home or to their old schools, the author reveals what motivated these boy-men to act in such an extraordinary, heroic way. He describes their brief, brilliant lives in and out of the trenches, the tireless ways they cared for their men, and how they tried to behave with honour in a world where their values and codes were quite literally being shot to pieces.


Best research resource ever. Beautiful book
Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey)
A superb study... Lewis-Stempel's marvelously evocative book is full of throat-catching moments... The result is the most moving single book on the Great War that I have ever read - and I have read many... his book pays the subalterns the respect they deserve by entering into their distant mindsets.
This well researched book tells the harrowing story of the men - or adolescents, many of them -who unhesitatingly answered the call by War Minister Lord Kitchener for volunteers, and continued to answer it even after it became clear that the life expectancy of a subaltern in the trenches averaged only six weeks... Lewis-Stempel is excellent on life in the trenches... for all the horror and pity of their struggle, their legacy is our freedom.
Andrew Roberts, MAIL ON SUNDAY
It is only rarely that a book deserves to be recommended unreservedly but John Lewis-Stempel's Six Weeks falls firmly into that category...This is a book that should be read by every young man who aspires to serve as an officer in the Army; it will educate him about how to behave in command of soldiers and about how to face the perils of war.
woven with great narrative skill...presents an incomparable portrait of a generation
Julian Fellowes
Diaries and letters convey the inspiring spirit of these young men.
A hugely moving account
A poignant and detailed study on what life was like at the front.
One of the most important new studies of the Great War
Every school pupil should read "Six Weeks" by @JLewisStempel before going on a First World War battlefield tour
Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander British Forces in Afghanistan and author of 'Attack State Red'
Superb ... the most moving single book on the Great War that I have ever read
Nigel Jones, Literary Review