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R.H. Thomson on viewing wars by the light of family history

By Kobo • February 21, 2024Kobo in Conversation Podcast

"I wanted people to think about war in terms of their family—what they see on their television and film screens, what they hear from other cultures. Because that broadens the viewfinder through which you look. I want people to go back into their own family and say,

What was that story my grandfather told me?

What was that story my great-grandmother told me?"

Michael spoke with R.H. Thomson: actor, director, playwright, and author of By the Ghost Light: Wars, Memory, and Families. Part memoir, part travelogue, part history, it’s a thoughtful and impassioned consideration of war and the stories we tell one another about it.

By the Ghost Light: Wars, Memory, and Families by R.H. Thomson

Using his family letters as a starting point, Thomson roams through a century of folly, touching on areas of military history, art, literature, and science, to express the tragic human cost of war behind the order and calm of ceremonial parades, memorials, and monuments. In an urgent call for new ways to acknowledge the dead, R.H. has created “The World Remembers,” an ambitious international project to individually name each of the millions killed in the First World War.

Epic in its scope and incredibly intimate in its exploration of lives touched by the tragedy of war, By the Ghost Light is a truly original book that will challenge the way we approach our history.

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