Sign up to the Newsletter for the latest news from the Baillie Gifford Prize

You are here

Empires of the Dead (William Collins)

Empires of the Dead (William Collins)

The extraordinary and forgotten story behind the building of the First World War cemeteries, due to the efforts of one remarkable and visionary man, Fabian Ware.

Before WWI, little provision was made for the burial of the war dead. Soldiers were often unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave; officers shipped home for burial.

The great cemeteries of WWI came about as a result of the efforts of one inspired visionary. In 1914, Fabian Ware joined the Red Cross, working on the frontline in France. Horrified by the hasty burials, he recorded the identity and position of the graves. His work was officially recognised, with a Graves Registration Commission being set up. As reports of their work became public, the Commission was flooded with letters from grieving relatives around the world.

Critically acclaimed author David Crane gives a profoundly moving account of the creation of the great citadels to the dead, which involved leading figures of the day, including Rudyard Kipling. It is the story of cynical politicking, as governments sought to justify the sacrifice, as well as the grief of nations, following the ‘war to end all wars’


About the Author

David Crane

David Crane read History and English at Oxford University, and then went on to become a lecturer at universities in Holland, Japan and Africa. Now a full-time writer, David Crane's first book, Lord Byron's Jackal was published to great acclaim in 1998. His second, The Kindness of Sisters, published in 2002, is a groundbreaking work of romantic biography. His last book for Harper Collins was the highly acclaimed Scott of the Antarctic (2005). He lives in north-west Scotland.