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Article excerpt

Byline: JULIA RICHARDSON

GREAT BRITAIN'S GREAT WAR

by Jeremy Paxman

(Penguin PS8.99 ? PS8.49)

ON AUGUST 7, 1915, Jeremy Paxman's great-uncle Charlie, a soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed in Turkey, aged just 24.

No one knows exactly how he was killed -- all Paxman has is a few official letters, saved in an old cigar box he discovered after his own mother died.

But this poignant snapshot of a lost relative inspires his moving, incisive and wideranging study of why a generation felt going to war was not only unavoidable but necessary.

Paxman interweaves anecdote with historical fact to give a compelling account of what happened through those who lived it -- from nurses and politicians to factory workers and children -- capturing the emotion of the Home Front and analysing how the war's upheaval shaped today's nation.

BADGERLANDS

by Patrick Barkham

(Granta PS9.99 ? PS9.49)

HAVE you ever seen a badger? Apart from roadkill, that is.

Though Britain is the home of the badger, most people have never seen one alive, as these nocturnal creatures vanish into the labyrinth of underground setts at the first whiff of a human.

In his latest book, Barkham meets the feeders, farmers and scientists who know their way around the Badgerlands -- the elusive world of these mysterious animals. …