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4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  418 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
This book is dedicated to a single soldier of Kichener's army. His name is Legion.

Mark 5:9, "Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many."
Paperback, 220 pages
Published November 1st 1985 by Salem House Publishers (first published June 20th 1983)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 23, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book ranged from 2 to 5 Stars for me. Two stars because I expected a history of the Somme battle. This is not a history of the Somme campaign, it is a haphazard account of days, conditions, participants, events large and small over a period from July 1, 2016 to November 2016. While roughly chronological, you will get an idea of what happened but I wanted a true battle history.

The book gets five stars for what she brings to you, accounts mostly in the original words of the soldiers who fough
When I first read Lyn MacDonald a decade ago, I was less than impressed with her. The book seemed to be a disjointed series of first-hand accounts with very little added in her own hand.
That observation still prohibits a 5-star rating, alltough Peter Hart outdoes MacDonald in undercementing his tape transcripts, but provided you have a little knowledge about the campaign at hand, these pages breathe new life into the names set in the cold tombstones of the CWGC.

With the last Victorian generatio
May 28, 2011 Checkman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military history fans
As an amatuer military historian I spent years ignoring World War One. In retrospect that was foolish on my part. But like many others I had the war pegged to a few cliches and sterotypes and didn't feel the need to investigate any further. In the fall of 1999 I had a few months left in the U.S. Army. I was preparing to go into the field to assist on a field problem. I knew that there would be long hours of radio watches and manning gates. I found a copy of The Somme in the post (base for thos ...more
Aug 30, 2016 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lengthy, chilling history of the Battle of the Somme, told mainly through the eyes of British officers, NCOs, and soldiers, many of them interviewed by MacDonald herself. As the author puts it. the book is more about “the experience of war” than any “political conclusions.” As such, the book is heavy on such topics as life in the trenches and the experience of battle, and MacDonald tells this story with compassion, and does a fine job bringing to life the era (“those days before instant commun ...more
May 03, 2015 Markus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read about WW1 the more I am fascinated by it. History is stranger than fiction, nobody could make this up.

The british Somme offensive in 1916 was one of the most attritious battles of WW1. Lyn Macrdonald brings it vividly to life with very readable prose interlaced with hundreds of personal accounts of the combatants. The amount of research which has gone into this book is mind staggering.

The other books of Lyn Macdonald about WW1 are already ordered, cant wait.
Jun 22, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book covering the Battle of Somme in 1916. The one drawback, as with all of Macdonald's work, is that the book only deals with the role of the UK and Commonwealth countries in the Battle.

The book is very readable, with excellent maps, and a good description of the horrors of the battle(s). I liked the eyewitness accounts of various aspects of the battles, life in the trenches, training camps, visiting home an leave, life back in the UK, etc. I really also enjoyed he multipl
Nov 01, 2014 Reds_reads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems wrong to say that I enjoyed this book given it's subject matter, but the enjoyment comes from the enlightenment - this is an educational read but the author manages to mix personal testimony, fine detail and overall perspective so well that this felt far removed from a dry historical read. (It also helped that this book was the present my son brought back for me from a school WWI Battlefields tour, what better present for a book lover?)

A further strength of the book, for me, was that th
Nov 07, 2012 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the earliest books I can remember borrowing from the local library. I read it more than once, or at least tried to.
I've always had an uneasy fascination with war and what soldiers endured in battle conditions.
Reading the personal encounters of soldiers who fought and died in this major military blunder is very poignant. Little would they know that their scribbled notes to wives and sweethearts would be preserved for all to read.
Feb 02, 2016 Geraldine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2016
I've given this book three stars as a reflection of my personal difficulties in reading this. If I was trying to be objective, 4 stars would be fairer.

Although I am interested in histories of both the World Wars I am not interested in military history. You can immediately see the obvious contradiction. So, for example, Lyn Macdonald's The Roses of No Man's Land was ideal for me, containing rich descriptions of the impact of war. Clearly, any book about an actual battle is going to be structured
Jul 18, 2015 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few battles are as seared into the British historical consciousness as the battle of the Somme, the months-long offensive against the German trenches during the First World War. There the newly-trained divisions of "Kitchener's Army" suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, all for advances that were often measured in yards. It was a baptism of blood, one that often depopulated villages back home of an entire generation of young men and left an indelible impression on the minds of its survi ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2016 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, historical
The last of four Macdonald books I picked up in a charity shop. Like the others, They Called It Passchendaele, The Roses of No Man's Land and 1915 The Death Of Innocence, 'Somme' combines the big picture with the personal experiences of those involved, skilfully weaving sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious first person accounts into the narrative. The work is from the '80s, but is dated only by a throwaway remark in the introduction about writers seldom being able to afford a personal comput ...more
For an very dense and accurate account of one of the worlds most horrific offenses, it is a surprisingly easy read. Staggering in its account of mans meat grinder mentality to the words "casualty" and "collateral damage". This book disturbed me... Pointless massacring on this scale should never be forgotten....
Alex Knipping
Jan 16, 2014 Alex Knipping rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wat de boeken van Lyn Macdonald over de Eerste Wereldoorlog zo prettig maakt, is dat ze precies de goed mix hebben tussen feitelijke weergave van de gebeurtenissen en ooggetuigenverslagen. De slag bij de Somme was een hel, een gevolg van verkeerde inschattingen, koppigheid van de generale staf van de Britten en onbegrijpelijke opofferingsgezindheid. Macdonald schrijft met distantie en neemt een objectief standpunt in. Ze geeft ons de waarnemingen door, zonder hinderlijk oordeel. Wij mogen als le ...more
Ian Rees
Jul 17, 2016 Ian Rees rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Detailed account of British army attacks on the Somme in 1916, given depth by eye-witness testimonies of survivors. Very moving as a result. I would have preferred more maps to make it easier to understand the smaller scale events.
Tom Mackie
Jan 03, 2015 Tom Mackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-history
Easy to read history of the Somme battle but not written for military historians. Extensive diary entries to document the life lived in this time.
Sep 06, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book to buy about the Somme wonderful reference book
Aug 16, 2016 Aurora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vimy100
Of all the military history books I've read, this is probably my least favourite. I was not a fan of the writing. While the information included was good, thorough, and interesting, I had hoped for more information on Beaumont Hamel and the Newfoundlanders. This book, however, is about Kitchener's Army. The last few paragraphs of the book were my favourite and definitely sum up the book in a few words. "They were, in short, fifteen soldiers of Kitchener's Army."
Aug 10, 2011 Melita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book so far is very good . She explains well , using her words to paint a picture , making it come alive for the reader . She has used the soldiers own experiences throughout the book , some of them very moving and graphic . All in all if you are interested in The First World War and the soldiers experiences you cant go far wrong in buying this book or any of the others by Lyn MacDonald !
Lucio Diamanti
Aug 14, 2013 Lucio Diamanti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to hear the voices of the men, who fought during the wr remember me of the tale of my mother's side greathmother born in Triest and of her memories. The only fault in her books are that English men died everywhere. I remember the burial cemetery of Magnaboschi on Asiago's plateu, where the brother of Vera Brittain feel. Apart Gallipoli the war remin concerned on the landres.
Feb 05, 2013 Russ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
an excellent read, featuring a lot of eyewitness accounts, all of them no longer with us... one of the most striking things about this book with its reliance on personal accounts is the apparent void in the narrative when it comes to the first morning of the Battle of the Somme, but then most of those tommies with the more compelling stories never left the field of battle that day
Jun 19, 2012 Sergio rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tragic account of a Great War battle in which the first tanks were introduced. The story uses the perspective of a front line soldier effectively and includes many first hand accounts for that purpose. However, it would be wise to be familiar with the strategy and tactics to better understand the story line.
Dec 21, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good account. There seemed to be some unexplored aspects of the story. For example the reaction at home could have been expanded upon. Many personal narratives. I'm not sure how the soldiers did it, going over the top time and again into machine gun fire and artillery. Madness!
Feb 09, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Seriously, even if you're not into war stories or history books Lyn Macdonald is *definitely* worth a of my favourite WWI historians, but very readable as well.
Apr 20, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lean but like Barbara Tuchman, leads us without hesitation or point-of-view through days of unremitting carnage which cost England it's best and brightest.
Len Roberto
the more I read about the common soldier's experience in WWI, the more depressing and wasteful it all seemed...just frightful wasting of lives...
May 14, 2009 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
A good breakdown of the horrible tragedy of this battle, and the horrific cost. Packed full of first-hand accounts.
Nov 19, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible. Makes one both deeply proud & deeply ashamed to be human.
Anne Afrin
Anne Afrin marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2016
Gwendolyn Shafer
Gwendolyn Shafer marked it as to-read
Oct 23, 2016
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  • The First Day on the Somme
  • The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914-1918
  • Gallipoli
  • No Man's Land: 1918, the Last Year of the Great War
  • The Somme: Heroism and Horror in the First World War
  • The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
  • The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World
  • Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy
  • Vimy
  • The Beauty and the Sorrow
  • Gallipoli
  • Ring Of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I
  • The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918
  • The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War
  • Somme Mud
  • The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919
Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are They Called It Passchendaele, an account of the Passchendaele campaign in 1917; The Roses of No Man's Land,, a chronicle of the war from the neglected viewpoint of the casualties and the medical teams who struggled to save them; ,Somme, a history of the leg ...more
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