Reviews of Angels in the Trenches

Angels in the Trenches Reviewed by Kai Mügge

The book is therefore a clear recommendation! – Kai Mügge, Felix Circle

Angels in the Trenches is historian, sociologist and Paranormal Review‘s Editor Leo Ruickbie’s newest achievement after his 2016 well acclaimed The Impossible ZooAngels in the Trenches is definitely different from what any average reader of a book about the later European heydays of Spiritualism might expect.

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Angels in the Trenches Reviewed on Goodreads

I would recommend this book – Goodreads

This book reads more like a novel than your typical nonfiction book as the author takes you through the First World War, following the stories of soldiers, spiritualists, charlatans and psychical investigators. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to get behind the usual story of the war.

Angels in the Trenches Reviewed on Google Books

Highly recommended – Google Books

Dr Leo Ruickbie is the editor of the Paranormal Review, the magazine of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) – founded in 1882, this is the world’s oldest and largest organization for the study of what we now call the ‘paranormal’. In Angels in the Trenches, his sixth book, published by one of the world’s leading publishers, he documents the nightside of the First World War, the uncanny and extraordinary superstitions, spiritualist beliefs and supernatural events that arose from the experience of the most devastating war then to have been fought.

Ruickbie follows the stories of key figures, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, through the war years, seeing how events shaped or destroyed them. There were strange contradictions as society wrestled with the problem of the paranormal. Fortune-tellers were put on trial for fraud at the same time as the Army could stage a mass handout of lucky charms. A dramatic case like the Angels of Mons affected the whole country, but there were also so many individual encounters with the uncanny, with seemingly impossible coincidences or strokes of luck (good and bad). It seemed more than any other conflict to be a quintessentially paranormal war.

Written as narrative history, or even as a non-fiction novel, Angels in the Trenches adopts the fast-moving style of modern fiction with a focus on character, underpinned by rigorous historical research. There are new things to be discovered here, as well as a cracking good read. Highly recommended.

Angels in the Trenches Reviewed by Warfare.Today

Definitely recommended – Warfare.Today

Angels in the Trenches is a unique approach to illuminating supernatural beliefs and experiences during the First World War that creates a gripping narrative, as well as an informative one. Leo Ruickbie’s grasp of the subject immerses the reader in the rich detail of the past, evoking the war years and the experiences of those who lived then with a novelist’s flair. The structure of the book – chronologically written in punchy sections – makes this an easy book to read and the reader is soon caught up in the dramatic storyline. Definitely recommended.

Angels in the Trenches Reviewed by Dr Tom Ruffles

5.0 out of 5 stars – Dr Tom Ruffles

An examination of a significant but under-studied aspect of the First World War
Angels in the Trenches examines a side to the Great War not often heard about, and then mainly in connection with the Angel of Mons. However, perceptions of the paranormal played a much more significant role than standard histories suggest, and to redress the balance Dr Leo Ruickbie has delved deeply into newspapers, official records and archives to analyse the ways the paranormal came into play as ordinary people, in and out of uniform, tried to make sense of the extreme circumstances in which they found themselves.

Angels in the Trenches Reviewed by Jayne Harris

The subject matter instantly grabbed my attention – Jayne Harris

The subject matter instantly grabbed my attention […] I found this book shone a light on a side to the great war that has so far been overlooked by most of us and has been presented in a very relatable way. I would encourage anyone with an interest in the paranormal to get a copy, find a comfy chair and settle in for a thoroughly good read!

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Angels in the Trenches Reviewed by Gerhard van Wyk

Very interesting and well-researched – Gerhard van Wyk

I received this book as a gift, because of my interest in superstitions in sport. Of course, war is an entirely different kind of “sport” but skill, luck, superstition, and sometimes the supernatural, all play their part in the fate of those on the front line, whether from ball or bullet. Or do they?

The author takes us back to The Great War, when many Brits including prominent public figures, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, regularly dabbled in spiritualism and the practical research into the mysteries of the afterlife. Holding seances, hosted by mediums of varying moral excellence, they attempted to make contact with the dearly departed. It was quite the “in thing” at the time for those enlightened (or desperate) enough.

Meanwhile, in the mud and blood of the trenches, mediums were wholly superfluous; the soldiers staring death in the face and walking among the spirits of the perished without any assistance.

The juxtaposition of civilians playing with Ouija boards trying to contact the perished, while young men in uniform were joining the aforementioned group at an alarming rate, is striking. The frivolous nature of the one is in stark contrast to finality of the other.

Where one might scoff at the former, it doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to imagine that the spiritual evidence of death and destruction brought on by war, in which millions of souls perish within a very short space of time, would manifest itself as physical reality to the traumatised soldiers next in line.

The author covers a number of superstitions, visions and other other supernatural occurances during the period in question. The writing style is fluid, his subject very well researched and he manages to inject just the right amount of dry humour to make one wonder whether he is a sceptic.

Very specialised authors often seem to get tunnel vision and turn even highly interesting subject matter into books worthy of sleeping pill status. Ruickbie manages to keep an eye on the bigger picture, which makes for an entertaining read, even for those less interested in this kind of book.