Book Reviews

This section includes reviews of my two books; Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War and Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War.

It also includes reviews of other books with a war and religion focus.

Jacqueline Wadsworth, historian and author, on Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War

Dr Ken Tout, Normandy Veteran and Military Historian

“I am truly impressed…It is a book which needs to be read widely…The chapter which you drew from my experiences is excellent and respects in every detail what I was trying to convey…[It is] well written…Many thanks for your sensitive handling of my thoughts. You use the printed word with the sensitivity that a heart surgeon handles his instruments.”

Professor Michael Snape, University of Durham

‘This is a valuable and varied collection that illustrates the resilience of religious faith in the midst of a conflict that is generally seen as speeding its demise. Amidst the ongoing centenary, John Broom has performed an important service in helping us to change this mistaken perspective.’

Jacqueline Wadsworth, author and historian

Broom’s book tells the inspiring stories of a number of very different characters who used their Christian faith to cope with their experiences of the First World War. Each story is a compelling one …

Fight the Good Fight is an extremely readable book, excellently researched, well illustrated with 23 plates, and packed with notes and references for anyone who wishes to take study further. It addresses a subject that has been largely overlooked thus far into the the Great War Centenary, namely the importance of Christianity during the conflict

Paul Grimley, Military Historian and Battlefield Tour Guide:

John Broom’s book explains the aspect of religion during the first world war, in short stories about people who gained, advanced or lost their religious beliefs during that conflict. It is easy to read and understand, and provides a balanced view of the subject in that era. An excellent and thought provoking book, well worth the read.  

Graeme Garvey, Catholic Writer and Blogger

John Broom’s recently published book addresses a topic that has been surprisingly neglected over the years. It has been more or less taken for granted that people ‘back then’ were more religious. This myth is examined and put in to a clearer context by the author as he explores how a specifically Christian faith had an inspirational and transformative effect on the lives on many people at the time.
The method he pursues most effectively is to look at individual case studies and it is necessary as this juncture to declare a personal interest. The story of my own grandfather, Joseph Garvey, is given one of the 23 chapters. I feel privileged to be in a position to comment as the family has always been immensely proud of both his enduring faith and his contribution to the war.
Where the book works particularly well is in its structuring, its sympathetic look at the personal faith of each individual and in its readability. Regarding its structure, the 23 chapters are subdivided into 6 self-explanatory groups; Christian Britain in 1914, Three Chaplains and an Army Scripture Reader, Women in War, Christians from Other Nations, Conscientious Objection in the First World War, Familes at War. Famous names like the nurse Edith Cavell, Alvin (Sergeant) York and double V.C. winner Noel Chavasse mix with people few will have heard of before, all of them being united by their Christian fellowship.
The book is, laudably, free of sectarian bias as John Broom treats each person with full respect, be they Non-Conformist, Catholic or Anglican. And because of his sympathetic approach and a happy ability to select pretty much the right amount of biographical detail in each case, every chapter successfully gives a helpful and often moving insight into that person’s faith. In my own case, I am pleased to be able to report that the section on Joe Garvey left me thinking, ‘Yes, that was him.’
I learned much from reading Fight the Good Fight and daresay many others will, too, both committed Christians and those of little or no faith who are seeking a better understanding of the Great War and its participants.


Here’s an interview I did about the inspiration for my first book with East Anglian historian Helen Barrell

Interview: John Broom, author of “Fight the Good Fight”

A Superb Review of Fight the Good Fight by Historian Oliver Dorrell

Fight the Good Fight, as reviewed by the Derby Telegraph:

Here’s what fellow author and historian Jacqueline Wadsworth had to say about my first book, Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War

Here’s my own review of Political Wings: William Wedgewood Benn, First Viscount Stansgate, by Alun Wyburn-Powell