S&S to publish diaries with War Museum

Simon & Schuster has teamed up with the Imperial War Museum to publish a series of diaries by people on the frontlines of the First and Second World Wars.

The War Diaries series will begin with A Chaplain in Gallipoli, edited by Gavin Roynon and published on 15th September as a £14.99 hardback. The diaries are by Kenneth Best, who had no military training before the First World War but believed the best way to fulfil his pastoral role was to get as close to the front line as possible. The 1915 land invasion of Gallipoli was notorious with hundreds of thousands of troops either killed or injured after the Allies attempted to open a supply route to Russia through Turkey.

Kerri Sharp, senior commissioning editor for non-fiction, said the book contrasted the conditions experienced by the officers and the troops on the ground. She said: "The officers grumble about trivia, while the ordinary soldiers are slaughtered horribly from the beach to the trenches."

On 1st March 2012, S&S will publish its second book in the series, A Nurse at the Front, edited by Ruth Cowen. The diaries are by Sister Edith Appleton, who served in France during the First World War, experiencing the aftermath of terrible battles such as those at Ypres and the first use of poison gas.

The series was signed after this year's London Book Fair, with the Imperial War Museum proposing four titles in total. Two more diaries, on the Second World War, will be published in autumn 2012 and spring 2013 respectively. These will focus on a tank commander facing the Panzer Division at the Normandy landings and the other will be the journal of a Home Counties housewife.

Sharp said: "The appeal of the series is the immediacy and easy-to-read format of the diaries, which condenses emotion and action into essential narrative. The market for accessible war histories has grown in recent years, with the success of books such as The Last Fighting Tommy and Nella Last's War, and the books in this series also act as great slices of social history, as well as war memoir."