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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  500 ratings  ·  41 reviews
'Because it was fought so close to his old home ground, Homer might have seen this war on the Gallipoli Peninsula as an epic. Brief by his standards, but essentially heroic. Shakespeare might have seen it as a tragedy with splendid bit-parts for buffoons and brigands and lots of graveyard scenes. Those thigh bones you occasionally see rearing out of the yellow earth of Gul ...more
Paperback, 752 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Bantam (first published 2001)
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4.25  · 
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 ·  500 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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This is a terrific synthesis and masterful narrative of a debacle of a high order in the early part of World War 1. Over about a year’s time, starting with naval actions in February 2015 and massive amphibious landings at the end of April, the Gallipoli campaign incurred about 350,000 battle casualties among both the Allied and Ottoman Turkish troops. The Allied forces, which included a large contingent of Australian and New Zealand soldiers (ANZAC), never succeeded in advancing more than a coup ...more
'Aussie Rick'
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 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 s
On the seafront at South Shields is a little stone monument. It commemorates the men of the British and ANZAC forces that fought at Gallipoli, and it looks out over the beach, the harbour and the North Sea. Further into town is a statue of a man in battledress, without web gear, with a donkey. It's beloved of the seagulls, and every April and May it sprouts poppy wreaths from strange, far away places.

That's why I came to this book. It's very focussed on the Australian and New Zealand experience
Julie Bozza
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. An odd choice for a pacifist to curl up with, I suppose, but it's a well written and clear-eyed account of the fascinating, heart-breaking Dardanelles campaign.

Gallipoli looms mythically in the Australian consciousness, and Carlyon is an Australian writer - but he aims to tell it how it was, as much as he can. It wasn't only the British leadership who bungled; it wasn't only the Australian and New Zealand troops who were heroic and cheerfully stoic. Carlyon takes a wide vi
Campbell Mcaulay
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lions led by donkeys,

I'm no expert on the Great War, but if Carlyon's account is anything to go by, Gallipoli was the pinnacle (or nadir) of a pointless war, fought incompetently. The campaign was an ill concieved idea of Winston Churchill's, championed by Kitchener and catastrophically pursued by the various generals appointed to carry it out.

For those who may not be familiar, the Gallipoli campaign was basically the invasion of Turkey (via the Dardanelles) by the Allied forces in 1915, aiming
Paul W
At 4:30am on April 25 the first troops landed at Gallipoli, a place that has passed into Australian legend. However the campaign turned into a debacle - one which started when the troops landed at the wrong beach.
The author of the Gallipoli scheme was Churchill. His "excess of imagination" together with the "fatal power of a young enthusiasm" saw Gallipoli as "something that would put him in the history books".
Carlyon captures in a very readable way, the details of the logistics and terrain as
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up on a whim, I was bored and I had a weekend to myself and I needed something to do. Its a subject I only really knew through the Mel Gibson movie from the early 80s and a few mentions in articles and such over the years, i had gleaned from these few sources that it was a disaster of epic proportions but was generally clueless. After reading Carlyon's well written well researched no punches pulled account I was dramatically moved by the horrors of war and I honestly thought I ...more
Steve Woods
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After recently walking the battlefields on the Gallipoli Peninsula, this book had great personal significance to me. I visited every Australian grave that was marked there and stood in the presence of the thousands that weren't. This account focussed the deep sadness and the great anger that dominated my heart and soul as I stood before those graves. The courage and determination that were demonstrated in that place by men who were essentially inexperienced as soldiers deserve our undying admira ...more
Robin Brotchie
On the 8th of August 1915 my Great Grandfather John Brotchie was fighting his way up the Damakjelik Spur on Gallipoli. He was there as a volunteer fighter, part of the 14th Battalion force under the command of Colonel John Monash. Due to poor direction from Monash and his British superiors, the 14th Battalion became lost and isolated in brush scrub just before dawn. When the sun came up on the Battalion was out of position and fired upon heavily by Turkish forces entrenched on the high-ground at ...more
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-politics
A fabulous story written by a historian who could write. After seeing P Weir’s film I was under the impression that what was most shocking was how the English officers used the ANZAC troups as cannon fodder. Actually they also used their own for that purpose. What is shocking is how incompetent they were. They had a total disregard for the life of their guys and basked themselves in a clubish atmosphere where all that counted was to fight “gallantly”. The politicians were hardly better but that ...more
Feb 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Another conflict that shaped our world nearly a century ago. Interesting to learn of the decision processes of the time in England and Australia and the growth of young Winston Churchill. Interesting though it was, this was kind of a long, slow read.
Found this a very hard book to read as Mr Crayon's writing style is very dry. 3/5 Information wise excellent 5/5
Greg Thiele
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very well written account of Gallipoli. Carlyon's style makes this book a good read, despite its length.
Andy Janes
Nov 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Pretty good, dragged on a bit in the middle. Went from clinical descriptions to flowery writing back and forth quite a bit.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Gallipoli, by Les Carlyon, describes the horrible battle from the perspective of the Australians. However, the author also includes some perspectives from some of the other allied powers fighting in the battle. The story begins with the opening battle at the Dardanelles all the way through to the evacuation of the allied troops after horrible deadlock and attrition. The author describes the battle with such vivid tones that send your mind to wild images of the harsh struggles that the men experi ...more
Rex Brampton
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Les Carlyon clearly wrote this for a certain market, that being the Australian Father’s Day Gift market, and he panders to his market well. Consequently there are little anti-British jibes throughout that would confuse any reader without a sense of irony (so there’s the US market gone).
He alternates between the politics of the British government and military High Command and anecdotes of life in the trenches that will make you laugh, cry, be outraged and feel a little bit sick in a regular rota
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Carlyon writes as a journalist, so it is less formal than a history and full of personal opinions, sarcasm and smart arse remarks - very Australian in style! Carlyon draws mostly on diaries, letters and memoirs from the participants. He covers the campaign from all perspectives. He highlights the stuff ups and he is unsparing in his criticisms of most of the generals. However, he lets them off in a sense by attributing their failure mostly to a lack of understanding o ...more
David Brown
This is a very detailed coverage of the Gallipoli campaign from an Australian (and New Zealand) perspective. The author uses irony widely and I found myself laughing from time to time. Overall though, I found the book plodded. I was also irritated by the author's continual use of Brigadier General. There is no such rank in the the British or Commonwealth Armies. This is an American rank. To me this reduced the credibility of the work.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant well worth reading and great research. It’s such an important historical event and the truth of the stupidity of the decisions that were made. It highlights to me that the attempt to try and take that part of the world was just another (modern) crusade. I’m horrified at some of these so called leaders and the saddest part is we haven’t learned anything.
Gary Newman
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book. So well researched and told by Carlyon. Conveys the feelings of adventure, patriotism (sometimes blind), terror and surprise. Some decisions made are unbelievable yet the courage that followed leaves you amazed. Comprehensive.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. Makes the battle come alive. Those at fault for the thousands of casualties are not spared and the senseless of war and the stupidity of leaders is not swept under the carpet. I read this because I wanted to and since have travelled to Gallipoli and the book really made the Peninsula more special than had I not read the book.

The book does not read like a history book and it has a novel feel to it while definitely not being a novel.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Simply the best book of its type I have ever read. Gallipoli's myths sometimes get in the way of the facts, but Carlyon gets straight to the nub of the tragedy of Gallipoli in a way that is both readable and authoritative. As Carlyon is an Aussie journalist, I was afraid that this might be an anti-British rant, but it was far from that. Kitchener's reputation as some sort of war god is busted, though Hamilton, without brushing over his flaws, is shown in a more sympathetic light. Carlyon isn't s ...more
Solidly in the 'Donkeys' tradition of World War One history, Carlyon's Gallipoli is an angry book but there is much to be angry about in this campaign. The description of the battle of the Nek is the book's high point but its anger clouds much else; do we really need so many laboured references to Hunter-Weston and butchery? Partly because of the endless sarcasm and also because Alan Moorehead was a better writer, there is nothing here that moved me in the same way as the account of the landings ...more
Trevor Hall
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A remarkable piece of research, a remarkable documentation of a remarkable story. I read Carlyon's Gallipoli after coming to Australia five years ago. As a Pom, I wish I'd read it earlier because it gives not only a fascinating insight into the tragedy of this battlefield, but also into what we can call Australian popular culture. Unlike other reviewers, I appreciated Carlyon's personal opinions which are littered throughout the book. I think what makes this a fascinating read is that it's not j ...more
Stewart Crichton
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Grand retelling of this disastrous battle, and from.the PoV of a well regarded Australian historian. Breaking down some of the ridiculous myths regarding the ANZACs, coupling his teaching us of history with stories if his trip there, vivid descriptions of the ground fought over, and a more honest, unbiased appraisal of all the troops and commanders involved. Doesn't pander to the Australian ANZAC myths, whilst still respecting and honouring the men who fought. Damn good read so far, highly recom ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this centenary year of the ANZAC landing, I recommend this for all Australian and New Zealand readers. It holds back no punches, condemning the mistakes and blunders made by generals and politicians, while at the same time praising the dedication and loyalty of the rank and file soldiers of bothe sides. In recent years, ANZAC has been enthroned as a defining moment for our nations, and this book helps to explain why. You will find no glorification of war in these pages, but will finish it hol ...more
Rick Brindle
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, military
This is en excellent book about Gallipoli, encompassing the Dardanelles Campaign of World War I. It tells you about the straegic overview, the accounts of the soldiers and sailors doing the fighting, and also from both sides. Most memorable point for me was Churchill's view of ships that sunk to mines (they were old) while the author rightly reminds us that the men who died in them were not.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superbly written book. It's not just filled with unbiased facts and information, it's enjoyable to read. This is essential reading for anyone, not just interested in Australia's military history, but military history in general. It's also essential reading for anyone interested in the general history of Australia, since this is an important part of it.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nothing l have read on Gallipoli compares with this book. NOTHlNG. No other author has given the reader such a feel for what it was like on the ground in the peninsula. The topography was more than half the battle but only Les Carlton seems to have been able to grasp that and allow the reader to understand it too.l cannot recommend this book enough.
Matt Howard
This campaign has fascinated me since I first read about it when I was in elementary school. This book, though a little dated is still a great account of the events, the battles, and the hardships of the British and ANZAC troops. I think that anyone interested in WWI at all needs to have this book on their list of must reads.
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Les Carlyon was an Australian writer and newspaper editor.
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