Les Carlyon's new book (published in 2001 in Australia) covering the Allied campaign against Turkey in the Dardanelles is one of those books that you...moreLes Carlyon's new book (published in 2001 in Australia) covering the Allied campaign against Turkey in the Dardanelles is one of those books that you find hard to put down once you start. In over 540 pages of narrative we get to hear the soldiers speak of their terrible trials and tribulations fighting in a harsh environment against a formidable enemy.
The book's main focus is upon the Australian involvement but the author does not neglect the role of the other Allied contingents, soldiers and sailors of the British and French Empires. Nor does his forget the enemy, 'Johnny Turk', who many Australian soldiers later came to respect regardless of the horrific fighting that they had endured.
I suppose many people will ask why Australia continues to make such a fuss over Gallipoli. When you take into consideration that the Australia of 1914 sent out of its small population over 332,000 men to serve overseas and of those 215,000 or more became casualties, (of which 60,000 died). A casualty rate of 65 per cent. Taking those figures into consideration you get an idea of why WW1 and particular Gallipoli means so much to many Australians.
The book is well told and the author uses numerous first-hand accounts of the soldiers, from both sides, who fought during this campaign. The narrative is engrossing, full of interesting facts and stories and just pulls you along further and deeper towards an ending we all know but made more alive and new by the author's style of writing.
I don't think that this book will offer any serious readers of this campaign anything new or startling, but I think that anyone who has a passion for Gallipoli will find this a well told account and close to being the definitive book on the subject. Many aspects of the book, particularly the stories of the blunders made by the Allied High Command still make me shake my head even though I have read it all before.
"We mounted over a plateau and down through gullies filled with thyme, where there lay about 4000 Turkish dead. It was indescribable. One was grateful for the rain and the grey sky. A Turkish Red Crescent man came and gave me some antiseptic wool with scent on it... The Turkish captain with me said: "At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep' ... I talked to the Turks, one of whom pointed to the graves. 'That's politics,' he said. Then he pointed to the dead bodies and said: 'That's diplomacy. God pity all us poor soldiers.'" - Captain Aubrey Herbert, ANZAC, May 1915 (taken from the inside dust-jacket of the book).
Another inspiring book by Les Carlyon, following on from his best selling account of Gallipoli comes this book, this time covering the Australian invo...moreAnother inspiring book by Les Carlyon, following on from his best selling account of Gallipoli comes this book, this time covering the Australian involvement on the Western front from 1916 till 1918. During this period the Australian troops fought in all the major battles, from the Somme to the breaching of the Hindenburg Line and become, along with the Canadian Corps one of the most feared and respected troops on the Western Front. During WW1 Australia's small population sent over 332,000 men to serve overseas and of those 215,000 or more became casualties, (of which 60,000 died). A casualty rate of 65 per cent! If you have an interest in the Great War then this book should be in your library. (less)
John R. Schindler's outstanding book on the numerous battles fought along the Isonzo River during the Great War is one of the best military history ac...moreJohn R. Schindler's outstanding book on the numerous battles fought along the Isonzo River during the Great War is one of the best military history accounts I have read for some time. The Isonzo River ran between the then warring nations of Italy and Austria (Habsburg Empire) and saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One. According to the author over 1.75 million men became casualties during the numerous offensives fought along this river and upper valley and should be placed along such names as Verdun, the Somme, and Passchendaele.
After reading his book I fully agree with the author in this regard. Before reading this book I had never really appreciated this campaign in the context of the Great War. I knew of the role of the young German officer, Erwin Rommel, and the Battle of Caporetto. Before now I had never read of the outstanding valour shown by the Italian and Austrian-Hungarian soldiers who fought for four grueling years along this forgotten front line.
I was not aware that Benito Mussolini had fought as an Italian Alpini soldier along this front and that he was a dedicated and brave soldier. I learnt from reading this book that the many ethnic nationals that made up the old Habsburg Empire fought bravely and without compliant for their Emperor regardless of what was happening to the old Empire back home.
The descriptions of the fighting were excellent and the details of the many campaigns and offensives never once got boring. The story was well told and the accounts of the many soldiers and officers involved were well told and insightful. This is an excellent historical account and rightly sub-titled as "The Forgotten Sacrifice of the Great War". The narrative was compelling throughout and I found it hard to put the book away late at night. In just under 350 pages of text we get a fascinating and before now untold account of a terrible conflict.
The author offers a highly interesting chapter on the ramifications of this WW1 campaign on the region after the end of the Great War. He also provides a chapter outlining the battlefield as it is today. There are a number of black and white photographs of the area and numerous maps (which could have been better but were sufficient). I cannot recommend this book highly enough for any World War One reader. Although the price tag may put off some buyers, it actually took me a few months to make the decision to buy this book, it is well worth the expenditure.
Max Arthur’s book; Forgotten Voices of the Great War, is quite unique in that it's content is nearly all first-hand accounts from people who experienc...moreMax Arthur’s book; Forgotten Voices of the Great War, is quite unique in that it's content is nearly all first-hand accounts from people who experienced the horror of the Great War. The author has utilized a number of tape recorded interviews conducted by the Imperial War Museum in 1972. Many of the tapes from the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive had been forgotten and left unheard for years.
Now Max Arthur has put together many of these unheard voices from the Great War to produce this spellbinding and captivating book. I must admit that I was reluctant to buy this book as I was worried that a book full of short accounts would be too disjointed and really not detailed enough to satisfy my interest. I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed reading this book.
Each chapter of the book was a year of the Great War and was commenced by an introduction by the author offering a brief run down on the major events of that year. Then we heard from the men and women who participated in these events, from both sides of no-man’s land. The author has concentrated mainly on the Western Front and Gallipoli and has tried to run the oral segments in chronological order.
I was really taken by these segments and I found it hard to stop reading. The accounts from these soldiers and civilians alike were at times humorous, strikingly direct, horrifying and on many occasions quite sad. I was really taken in by these accounts and I don’t think that any World War One library would be complete without this title sitting on the shelf. I can honestly say that I learnt quite a few things from this book and I would place it along side such works offered by Lyn MacDonald.
Well done to the author and the Imperial War Museum for allowing these veterans, many now long dead, the last word on their experiences in the Great War. This is a great book, you won’t be disappointed. (less)
This is a decent account covering the formation, development and introduction of the Tank Corp on the Western Front during WW1. It covers all aspects...moreThis is a decent account covering the formation, development and introduction of the Tank Corp on the Western Front during WW1. It covers all aspects of the first 'tank' and the men who crewed and fought with this weapon during WW1. The book looks at the battles that the Tank took part in and the politics of its use between commanders, politicians and the soldiers. Overall its a decent introduction to early tank warfare and one of few written on the subject ("Tanks & Trenches" and "The Devil's Chariots").(less)
The Last Days of Innocence: America at War, 1917-1918 offers the reader a decent and balanced view of America's role and involvment in the Great War....more The Last Days of Innocence: America at War, 1917-1918 offers the reader a decent and balanced view of America's role and involvment in the Great War. If you wanted one book that would provide you with a detailed account of the United States' role in the Great War this is it. The author's cover every aspect of America's involvement in WW1.
This book covers everything from the gradual decline in civil liberties, the increase in Govt. agencies power over the individual, the war industry the training and arming of her armed forces to their final deployment on the European battlefield. Although America didn't get into the fighting until the last few months of the war she paid for the privilage with many young American lives.
This is a well researched and a well told story and every American should read the book to fully appreciate what their countymen did in 1917-1918. (less)
This book offers the reader a chance to view the world of a British Infantry officer during the Great War. We follow him through his rotation with his...moreThis book offers the reader a chance to view the world of a British Infantry officer during the Great War. We follow him through his rotation with his unit from the trenches on the Western Front into rest areas and onto leave back home and back into the Trenches. We can read about his experiences whilst serving on the Somme and Passchendaele and enjoy his candor and humour whilst being involved in some of the bloodiest fighting during World War One. I particularly liked his rantings against senior commanders in stopping the rum ration to the troops shivering in the water logged trenches. Although short and sharp with some diary entries only being a single line its well worth the read.(less)
Winston Groom's A Storm in Flanders, offers the reader an interesting and satisfying overview of the fighting around the Ypres Salient between 1914 an...moreWinston Groom's A Storm in Flanders, offers the reader an interesting and satisfying overview of the fighting around the Ypres Salient between 1914 and 1918. The book is 276 pages in length of which over 260 is text. This account cannot be considered comprehensive in its study of the Ypres Salient in the Great War, for that you will need to look elsewhere. However what Mr Groom does offer is a compelling look at the numerous battles fought around the Ypres Salient, including one of the most dreadful battles of World War One, Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres.
The author has attempted to give you, the reader, an insight into the lives of the soldier huddled in his wet trench under constant artillery fire, where thousands of soldiers lost their lives in daily 'wastage', even during quiet periods. The story is told mainly from the British point of view, with numerous first-hand accounts offered throughout the book. The narrative is fast paced and you never get tired or bored with the story. I have read many books on the Great War and I never cease to wonder why these brave men endured what they did and for so long.
The author provides the reader with details about the introduction of new weapons of destruction unleashed for the first time during the Great War. Stories of how poisons gas was utilized by the Germans and then the Allies, followed by accounts of the victims and witnesses to the effects of gas are truly horrendous. Then follows the introduction of massive underground mines and the flame-thrower to combat the trench systems and machine gun posts of the enemy. The author doesn't spare you the details of what happened to men during the fighting in the trenches and the terrible affects of an artillery bombardment or a underground mine exploding under a trench packed with soldiers.
The beauty of this book is that it really gives you an idea what these poor men, from both sides of the conflict, had to live through. The oft told story about Lieutenant General Kiggell viewing the battlefield after Passchendaele fell, breaking down into tears, crying out "Good God, did we really send men to fight in that." still saddens me, regardless of how many times I read it.
If nothing else this, book will offer the first time reader of the fighting around Ypres a good understanding of the terrible battles fought there and will entice many to follow up with further reading. As such I can recommend many good titles to follow through on with for those who may be interested:
In Flanders Fields by Leon Wolff They Called it Passchendaele by Lyn MacDonald Passchendaele: The Untold Story by Robin Prior & Trevor Wilson Passchendaele: the Sacrificial Ground by Nigel Steel & Peter Hart Passchendaele: The Story Behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 by Philip Warner
Of these Lyn MacDonald's account is one of the more interesting in that she utilises many accounts of the soldiers who fought during that terrible battle. Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson's account also offers much new information and has received much acclaim of late.
Any person who reads this book will not fail to come away impressed with the stolid courage of the officers and men involved in this terrible carnage and if that's the least this book does then that is more than enough as far as I am concerned.
11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour by Joseph Persico is an interesting and captivating book covering not only the final moments of the Great War but also...more11th Month, 11th Day, 11th Hour by Joseph Persico is an interesting and captivating book covering not only the final moments of the Great War but also offering a general history of the war from its beginning in 1914. The author follows a number of characters, great and small, throughout the narrative. We follow the paths and final fate of a number of soldiers from America, Britain, France, and Germany. We also get glimpses of those who control their destiny, Foch, Haig, Hindenburg and Pershing.
The story is well told and you'll find yourself following the lives of these men and women intensely, mostly with the knowledge of what is to come but still drawn into the final agonising moments before the end. The book can jump about a little, from 1914 to 1918, as mentioned by previous reviewers, however I did not find that this detracted from the story and felt it worked well enough.
The book has received a few negative reviews in my country (Australia), mainly for the fact that the author tends to miss the other allies (Australia & New Zealand) who were fighting along side the Americans. The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) served from 1915 to 1918 on the Western Front and as a whole suffered a casualty rate of 65%, the highest of any Allied army in WW1. However I can see that this book has been written mainly for an American audience and I think it has done well.
The author's intent, to show the terribly tragedy of that final day, the waste of soldiers lives by Generals in an attempt to comply with criminal inept and stupid orders from higher up comes through strongly. Regardless of which nation those soldiers served, it's a well-told story and one that needed to be told.
I have read a quite a number of books on the Great War but this is one of the first to bring home the futility of some of the actions carried out by supposedly intelligent leaders & commanders. I hope that we never forget the sacrifice made by all the combatants, willing or not, in this most terrible War.
Firstly before I start my review of this book I must make two admissions; One I am a land person, never served in the Navy and I don't much like the s...moreFirstly before I start my review of this book I must make two admissions; One I am a land person, never served in the Navy and I don't much like the sea. Second, this is the first book I have ever read of this battle. With those two useless bits of information out of the way I can now offer the utmost praise for this excellent and gripping account of the 1916 Battle of Jutland.
Keith Yates offers the reader an engrossing and highly readable account one of the twentieth century's most famous naval engagements. I for one had no problems following the twists and turns of the Dreadnoughts as they plowed through the sea off the coast of Denmark in May 1916. From the very first page the author grabs your attention with details of the lead up to this massive engagement between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet.
The book starts in the year 1893 with details of the forthcoming personalities in this drama and some events that had bearing on this battle. The first part of the book offers us details and hints of some of the reasons behind the why and how of this battle. The second part of the book describes some of the early engagements of WW1 and the Battle of Jutland in detail. The final part looks at what happened after the two Fleets disengaged and this was as interesting as the battle itself. The author provides us with a concluding chapter in regards to the controversies that have continued to this very day.
This is a great book, well researched and as the author states the book is aimed intentionally at the general reader with an interest in naval history. The author provides details of recommended books to those who want to read more on the subject. Books like Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting by N. J. Campbell which I think is one of the most extensively researched books on this battle available.
There are a number of black & white photographs provided along with numerous maps and some very interesting appendixes covering the make up of both Fleets and casualties for this battle. The author's conclusions are well presented and very fair. I think that if you wanted only one book to read on this battle this would be the one to suit most people. This is a great story and a very easy to read account, enjoy! (less)
Nigel Steel and Peter Hart's third book covering the Great War deals with the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele. This book joins a...moreNigel Steel and Peter Hart's third book covering the Great War deals with the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele. This book joins a long list of other titles covering this most horrendous battle of World War One. As in their previous books the authors utilize the accounts of many of the participants in this great struggle. From gunners and footsloggers to the men in the air trying to gain mastery of the airspace above the salient. Using first-hand accounts, interviews, letters and after action reports they put together a fairly comprehensive story of the fighting as experienced by British and Commonwealth soldiers. It must be said that there are very few similar accounts used in this book from the German side.
Overall they do reasonable well in presenting the story of the fighting in the Ypres salient from 1917-1918. However I feel that they may not have done as well as some previous books. At times I found that the narrative appeared to drag or lose its continuity. The authors have attempted to be very fair in their assessment of the British High Command and the involvement or lack of involvement of the politician's back home. The book does not appear to have an axe to grind in regards to any one person's culpability in regards to the tremendous casualties suffered for so little tangible gain. The authors simply present the facts and allow you, the reader, to determine who may be at fault for the loss of so many innocent lives.
I found that the authors offered a very good overview of the circumstances leading to this battle, the tactics used and the decisions of the Commanding Generals. Overall it's a very easy to read account of this battle and a good starting point for someone wishing to learn more about what the poor bloody 'Tommy', 'Aussie', 'Kiwi' and 'Canuck' suffered. I would also recommend for further reading Lyn MacDonald's 'They Called it Passchendaele', Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson's 'Passchendaele; The Untold Story', and books by Philip Warner, Winston Groom and Leon Wolff.
I would like to finish up with an account from the book where a young British soldier was about to go 'over the top' during the offensive to take Pilckem Ridge on the 31st July 1917: "It was still dark but then suddenly it was illuminated by a line of bursting shells, but what was astonishing still was that we must all have been deafened by the noise. I looked at Herbert, I could see his lips move - I shouted but I couldn't hear myself at all. I wanted to tell him that we would keep together so I grabbed his hand and we went over together as we had gone to Sunday School - hand in hand." - Private Alfred Warsop, 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters.
This well researched and nicely presented book; Sepoys in the Trenches by Gordon Corrigan, offers the reader an insightful and interesting account of...moreThis well researched and nicely presented book; Sepoys in the Trenches by Gordon Corrigan, offers the reader an insightful and interesting account of the Indian Corps during the first year of the Great War. The book provides a detailed combat narrative of the period between 1914 - 1915 when the Indian Corps served on the Western Front. The author, who served in the British Army from 1962 to 1998, spent some time in command of a Gurkha unit and his love for these brave and resourceful soldiers shows in this account.
The book is well written and covers a large range of material and subjects concerning the Indian units who served on the Western Front as part of the BEF until they were re-deployed to Mesopotamia in November 1915. Not only are the battles covered in detail but the make-up and performance of the Indian Corps is assessed and a number of myths and stories are clarified and laid to rest.
The author takes the time to give you the background of the Indian Corps and how it was organized and recruited to function under much different circumstances than the attritional warfare of the Western Front. He then shows the problems encountered by the Indian Army on the Western Front due to it being raised, trained and equipped to fight skirmishes on the Indian frontiers and not a modern European war.
At the end of the book you feel that the officers and men of the Indian Corps did an outstanding job during that first year of the Great War and that they might not have received the credit that they were due. That they had fought in every major British battle during that period and suffered horrendous casualties fighting in a country they knew little of and in a war that had nothing to do with them and still retained their loyalty and faith in the British Empire was quite amazing.
The author has utilised a number of first-hand accounts throughout the narrative, which give you a small idea and feeling of the Indian troops fighting in France. A number of black & white photographs and detailed maps are provided throughout the book and are of a decent standard. Overall this is an excellent account covering a little known and sparsely written about aspect of the First World War. I am sure that any student or reader of this period of history will enjoy this book and will learn something new to take away after putting the book back on its shelf. (less)
I have a passionate interest in books covering the Western Front during the Great War. I found this book to be a well researched and presented account...moreI have a passionate interest in books covering the Western Front during the Great War. I found this book to be a well researched and presented account of this terrible battle. Having read quite a few books on this battle I have no hesitation it placing it along side such great books as Lyn MacDonald's 'Somme' and Martin Middlebrook's 'The First Day on the Somme'.
Malcolm Brown has utilised numerous first hand accounts from diaries, reports, newspapers and interviews and uses these in a manner that brings life to this terrible battle. Somewhat similar in style to Lyn MacDonald and just as good, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The author tells the battle through the experiences of the ordinary (I should say extraordinary) soldier; British, Australian, Canadian, German and the many others who fought during this terrible carnage.
The narrative flows along smoothly and the personal accounts of the soldiers seem to blend in effortlessly. Malcolm Brown has used the resources of the Imperial War Museum to present a detailed and accurate story of the Somme which I am sure that most people would enjoy and find rewarding. If you can no longer find a copy of Lyn MacDonald's 'Somme' or Martin Middlebrook's 'The First Day on the Somme' grab this book instead, you won't be disappointed!
Of interest to other readers this book was recently hailed as "a valuable addition to First World War literature".
This book was the catalyst for my enduring fascination for books covering the Western Front. I use to despair in trying to read books about the Great...moreThis book was the catalyst for my enduring fascination for books covering the Western Front. I use to despair in trying to read books about the Great War, as they were mind numbing with the numbers of dead, I was too young to appreciate what I was reading. Martin Middlebrook’s “The First Day on the Somme” changed all that and gave me a love for this period of history and a better appreciation of what these poor soldiers went through. If anyone wants to better understand the Great War or the Battle on the Somme this is the book to start off with. For those who are interested the author went on to write another account from the German perspective covering the March 1918 offensive titled “The Kaiser’s Battle”.(less)
Once again John Keegan has produced another well written and researched book to add to his growing number of titles. This is an excellent one volume a...more
Once again John Keegan has produced another well written and researched book to add to his growing number of titles. This is an excellent one volume account of the Great War which the novice or experienced reader will enjoy. I found the first few chapters a bit dry but once the author moved into the sections covering the fighting the book moved along smartly.
The author covers all theatres of the war and covered those naval and aviation aspects that had bearing on the war as a whole. There were a number of excellent general maps and numerous black & white photographs to assist the reader to follow the narrative.
Overall a great book to read and well worth the time to sit down and enjoy.
Byron Farwell offers the reader a well researched and well presented account of this often forgotten campaign of WW1. In just over 380 pages (hardback...more Byron Farwell offers the reader a well researched and well presented account of this often forgotten campaign of WW1. In just over 380 pages (hardback version) he covers all aspects of this little known campaign covering such incidents as L-59, the German Zeppelin which made the world's longest sustained flight, from Bulgaria to Central Africa and back! Hunting a German Cruiser on the Rufiji River by an elephant hunter (The African Queen?).
Accounts of some of the terrible battles on land, one where both armies were routed by killer bees! Men fighting with spears, knobberries, machine-guns, planes and armoured cars. The author also offers an interesting account of that famous German commander who had the allied forces chasing themselves for so long; Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck. This is a great story which I recommend to anybody who enjoys a well written history book.(less)
This book is an interesting and easy to read account of a German commercial raider of WW1, SMS Wolf. The story is told from the point of view of the G...moreThis book is an interesting and easy to read account of a German commercial raider of WW1, SMS Wolf. The story is told from the point of view of the German crew and its victims and the story just races along. It’s a very interesting tale of a brave German crew but also highlights the tenacity and bravery of the victims captured by this raider and their year long confinement on board the SMS Wolf. Overall it’s an enjoyable book to read and offers the reader an insight into a different and mainly untold history of the Great War.(less)