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Wade Davis's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Wade Davis recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Wade Davis's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Three Day Road

Set in Canada and the battlefields of France and Belgium, Three-Day Road is a mesmerizing novel told through the eyes of Niskaaa Canadian Oji-Cree woman living off the land who is the last of a line of healers and divinersaand her nephew Xavier. At the urging of his friend Elijah, a Cree boy raised in reserve schools, Xavier joins the war effort. Shipped off to Europe when they are nineteen, the boys are marginalized from the Canadian soldiers not only by their native appearance but also by the fine marksmanship that years of hunting in the bush has taught them. Both become snipers renowned... more
Recommended by Wade Davis, and 1 others.

Wade DavisJoseph is a friend of mine and l love this book. The other novel that could have been on the list is [Sebastian Faulks’s] Birdsong, which is a beautiful book, but because Sebastian has quite properly got a lot of attention, I thought it would be nice to choose something else. (Source)

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An autobiographical work that describes firsthand the great tectonic shifts in English society following the First World War, Robert Graves's Goodbye to All That is a matchless evocation of the Great War's haunting legacy. In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing 'never to make England my home again'. This is his superb account of his life up until that 'bitter leave-taking': from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life. It also... more
Recommended by Wade Davis, and 1 others.

Wade DavisOf all the memoirs it is the most accessible, the best written and in many ways the most poignant of the memoirs that came from the soldiers. (Source)

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom is an unusual and rich work. It encompasses an account of the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War alongside general Middle Eastern and military history, politics, adventure and drama. It is also a memoir of the soldier known as 'Lawrence of Arabia'.Lawrence is a fascinating and controversial figure and his talent as a vivid and imaginative writer shines through on every page of this, his masterpiece. Seven Pillars of Wisdom provides a unique portrait of this extraordinary man and an insight into the birth of the Arab nation. less
Recommended by Wade Davis, Dan Choi, and 2 others.

Wade DavisSomeone once asked me, if a fire burnt down my house what would be the one thing I would walk out with? And it’s a first-edition, leather-bound copy of this incredible book signed by my grandfather. My grandfather was himself a surgeon at a casualty clearing station on the Western Front. (Source)

Dan ChoiYes, it’s a book about Lawrence’s experiences during World War I, when he was stationed in North African and the Middle East. He writes about some of the lessons that he learnt from the military leaders from the Allies, and the Bedouin and tribal leaders. The book was influential to me because I can see his contribution as an Arabist. (Source)

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Much of what we know and feel about the First World War we owe to Vera Brittain's elegiac yet unsparing book, which set a standard for memoirists from Martha Gellhorn to Lillian Hellman. Abandoning her studies at Oxford in 1915 to enlist as a nurse in the armed services, Brittain served in London, in Malta, and on the Western Front. By war's end she had lost virtually everyone she loved. Testament of Youth is both a record of what she lived through and an elegy for a vanished generation. Hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as a book that helped “both form and define the mood... more
Recommended by Wade Davis, and 1 others.

Wade DavisTo me, Testament of Youth is simply one of the finest, most heart-rending and most moving memoirs – not just of the Great War, but of any conflict. Women often spoke of the war and their losses through the metaphor of dance. Nancy Cooper famously said that “by the end of 1916 every boy that I had ever danced with was dead”. Vera Brittain simply said: “There was no one left to dance with.” (Source)

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The year 2000 marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most original and gripping volumes ever written about the First World War. Fussell illuminates a war that changed a generation and revolutionised the way we see the world. He explores the British experience on the western Front from 1914 to 1918, focusing on the various literary means by which it has been remembered, conventionalized and mythologized. It is also about the literary dimensions of the experience itself. Fussell supplies contexts, both actual and literary, for writers who have most effectively memorialized the Great War as an... more
Recommended by Will Self, Wade Davis, and 2 others.

Will SelfFussell’s book brilliantly articulates many views which were inchoate in me before I read it. It’s ostensibly literary criticism, but it does much more than that. His thesis is the juxtaposition of the great powers marching off in August 1914, with their banners and tootling – “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” – and the reality of war. They expected a swift victory by Christmas, but got... (Source)

Wade DavisThis is the perfect book to end on. Every page is a revelation. It’s for anyone who wants to understand this notion that the war was the fulcrum of modernity. It was a turning point. The entire idea of the 19th century – which was an idea of progress, optimism and the notion that you can always better yourself economically, spiritually, socially – was crushed on the fields of Flanders. And in the... (Source)

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