In the year the centenary of the beginning of World War One is marked, John A. Taylor has issued a further two books showing what life was like for those in the local area. Hot on the heels of the superb Stony Stratford in the First World War, comes Home Fires, a look at life in the North Bucks Towns and Villages during the wartime, and Newport Pagnell During The First World War. Many history books have been written that make for a tidy read -  something to dip in and out of, perhaps -  but John Taylor take the art of sharing information to another level. The Milton Keynes-based author does his research and then some, resulting in books thick in pages, and deep in knowledge. Both books successfully take you back to the era, and have so many tales and memories within that you'll almost feel as if those lost in battle were personally known to you. Take Lance Corporal William 'Laddie' Brown, for example. A member of the 7th Battalion Oxon and Bucks light Infantry, he was killed in action on Saturday, August 19, 1916. The Cosgrove resident was a keen sportsman and played for Cosgrove and Wolverton football clubs before being cut down, aged 31. A letter sent his parents in Wolverton from his Platoon Lieutenant, started: 'Dear Mrs Brown - it is with feelings of heartfelt sympathy and deepest regret that I write to tell you of the death of your ever brave and cheerful son...' It described the fierce barrage of shrapnel faced by the platoon, but how - despite the shelling - they had stuck at their position.  Until an explosive shell burst. '...and your brave boy was hit in the abdomen and in the leg.  He rolled over and fell at my feet, and gasped 'Oh! I am bleeding to death.' 'We tried our best but, Mrs Brown, it was a hopeless case and your gallant boy died in twenty seconds....' It was a second bereavement for the Brown family, who a year earlier had lost another son, Private Joseph Brown, at the battle of Hooge. Newport Pagnell CoverHome Fires cover The personal tone of the stories and the detailed descriptions of life in the area 100 years ago makes for fascinating reading. The Newport Pagnell edition is equally stunning in detail, and is supplemented by rare photographs from the time. From the buildings to the people who are thoroughly engrained in the history of the town, this book is an absolute essential for anyone who wants to find out more about the pain it endured and the stoicism of its inhabitants during decidedly dark times. Lots of the buildings in Newport Pagnell seen in the book are no more, destroyed or torn down over decades.  But what is wonderful is that many more remain. You can read the book, pop to Newport and retrace - literally - many of the steps taken by those who came before us. And, just like Taylor's books, that is pretty special.   Both titles are available from Waterstone's, intu - formerly Midsummer Place   81 royal-engineers-feb1916.jon parade outside Newport Pagnell Brewerypg copy