Troubador Joseph, 1917

Released: 28/02/2017

ISBN: 9781785898976

eISBN: 9781785897689

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Joseph, 1917


“I was somewhere else yesterday. Today I am here, and tomorrow I will be somewhere else again. By this action of yours my time is wasted perhaps more than yours, as I have to go a great deal further than you.”

Joseph didn’t want to go to war. He wasn’t a conscientious objector, but neither was he garlanded with battle honours. He resembles none of our burnished archetypes and he isn’t the sort of man books are normally written about. He fought only because a military tribunal forced him to. That tribunal sat in Westminster, many miles away, and it was led by the Marquess of Salisbury. The Westminster decision so enraged Joseph’s friends and neighbours that his own, local tribunal went on strike.

Drawing on legal records and vibrant newspaper reports of the time, Joseph, 1917 raises an interesting question – if you put a man in harm’s way then realise you made a mistake, shouldn’t you at least try to make amends? The book also offers some thoughts on tribunals and the law they applied and about the different ways they let Joseph down. But it is also interested in the events and characters of the time and the strange story of the place Joseph called home.

Joseph, 1917 is a book that is different in its subject and its scope from almost every other one published about the war and would serve as the perfect complement to those books. It combines several genres in which there is currently great interest – not only is it a military history, it is a life story and it contains a good deal of social history (and even genealogy) and legal and political history. It is likely to appeal not only to devotees of Richard Holmes, but also to people who enjoy Who Do You Think You Are? and The Secret History of My Family and to readers of History Today.

David Hewitt is a lawyer and writer and, like some of the people in Joseph, 1917, he sits on judicial tribunals. He was born and brought up in the place in which the book is set and he is interested in the law and what it does to people. He is also interested in lost stories, especially those that shed fresh light on great events, and he enjoys bringing those stories back into the light.

Runcorn and Widnes World

New Law Journal

Lancashire Telegraph

Lancashire Post

Law Society Gazette

Morning Star

Books Monthly



Family Tree

Prize Magazine

Solicitors Journal

New Law Journal

New Law Journal

Blackpool Gazette

Female First

The Brief

Everyday Lives in War

Lancaster University

“A good read with a breezy style that made the intricate details easy to assimilate.”

“If you enjoy an experience that winds its way through some amazing thumbnails, looking over the shoulder of an author who obviously loves dabbling in the darker corners of archives, this is definitely a boot-filling experience.”

“… painstaking research of primary sources.”

“The contextual material in the book has been very carefully researched, with extensive use of fascinating tribunal minutes.”

“ … an extremely well-researched document.”

“The book has been written beautifully.”

“Hewitt’s is a colourful characterisation.”

“Joseph’s benign domestic existence … is evocatively described.”

“… by intertwining Joseph’s story with those of the men who had an influence on his life the author has shaped the background to the story of many a similar working class man during WW1. The author’s closing comments on parallels to modern tribunals are thought provoking.”

by A selection of reviews

David  Hewitt

David Hewitt is a lawyer and a writer.

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