Great-Uncle Harry

by Michael Palin

£22.00

History

Hardback

9781529152616

Published by Cornerstone

Published September 2023

Books > History

A Tale of War and Empire

Some years ago a stash of family records was handed down to Michael Palin, among which were photos of an enigmatic young man in army uniform, as well as photos of the same young man as a teenager looking uncomfortable at family gatherings. This, Michael learnt, was his Great-Uncle Harry, born in 1884, died in 1916. He had previously had no idea that he had a Great-Uncle Harry, much less that his life was cut short at the age of 32 when he was killed in the Battle of the Somme. The discovery both shocked him and made him want to know much more about him.

The quest that followed involved hundreds of hours of painstaking detective work. Michael dug out every bit of family gossip and correspondence he could. He studied every relevant official document. He tracked down what remained of his great-uncle Harry’s diaries and letters, and pored over photographs of First World War battle scenes to see whether Harry appeared in any of them. He walked the route Harry took on that fatal, final day of his life amid the mud of northern France. And as he did so, a life that had previously existed in the shadows was revealed to him.

Great-Uncle Harry is an utterly compelling account of an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life. A blend of biography, history, travelogue and personal memoir this is Michael Palin at his very finest.

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