The Poppy

Pages: 320
Subject: History
Imprint: Oneworld

The Poppy

A History of Conflict, Loss, Remembrance, and Redemption

Nicholas J. Saunders

Our most renowned archaeologist of the First World War unravels the tangled history of the beloved, iconic flower
9781780744049 (3 Apr 2014)
RRP £9.99 / US$15.99

The Book

The definitive history of the ever-enduring icon

In the aftermath of the horrific trench warfare of the First World War, the poppy - sprouting across the killing fields of France and Belgium, then immortalized in John McCrae's moving poem - became a worldwide icon. Yet the poppy has a longer history, as the tell-tale sign of human cultivation of the land, of the ravages of war, and of the desire to escape the earthly realm through opium dreams or morphine drips. From the ancient Egyptian fights over prized potions to the addicts of the American Civil War, to the British entanglements in the Opium Wars with China and the struggle to end Afghanistan's tribal narcotics trade, there is the poppy.

Additional Information

Subject History
Pages 320
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Nicholas J. Saunders is the world's leading authority on the anthropological archaeology of the First world war. A lecturer in the department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol, he undertook the first-ever study of Great war material culture as a British Academy Senior Research Fellow at University College London between 1998 and 2004. His exhibition of trench art from the war was for five years a centrepiece of the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium. He has published more than twenty-five books, including Trench Art, Killing Time, Alexander's Tomb and Matters of Conflict, and has appeared in documentaries for the BBC, the National Geographic Channel and the History Channel. He co-directs two major Great war archaeological projects, in Jordan and Slovenia, and lives in west Sussex.


‘Brilliantly researched and told… a saga with many surprising twists and turns’ 

- The Garden

'Saunders movingly presents the poppy in its beauty, its tragedy and its healing power as a potent symbol every year in our national and global remembrance of loss.'

- Saga Magazine