Perhaps my expectations have been raised too high by the many excellent Osprey campaign books I have read recently, but this book fell short for me. It is told almost entirely from the British point of view and can be easily summarized: the gallant Tommies hold off the German hordes despite terrible casualties. There is very little discussion of the German point of view and even less about the French, who played a key role in the battle. I give it three stars because the story is told competently, but that is all. Being a relatively early book in the series (they are now up to about 150), it does not meet the standard of the later books.
The book also suffers from having to devote a section to wargaming the battle (something dropped in the later books). The author wastes six pages on this -- wastes, as his ideas on wargaming are useless. He would have done much better to keep this section to a minimum and use the pages elsewhere -- either in more descriptions of small unit actions or to flesh out the sections on leaders and the opposing forces, which are terse to the point of being virtually useless. He does include a very detailed order of battle -- for the British. The orders of battle for the French and Germans are skimpy by comparison. In particular, the German heavy artillery, which he repeatedly mentions as having a big impact on actions, is left out completely.
The occasional detailed description of small unit actions are the high point of the book; the rest of the battle is told at such a high level (and in such a dry style) that I was not engaged. I would have happily given up some of the high level narrative for more small unit 'vignettes'. I was particularly intrigued by the author's mention of some of the more experienced German units using 'infiltration'. Since infiltration tactics are not normally considered to have been used until 1917, I would have liked to learn just what these units were doing. But to do that would have detracted from the relentlessly British focus of the book and so, apparently, would not do.
I did gain some interesting insights into this period. Although the standard image of World War 1 is the generals living in chateaus far from the front line, which they never visited, that was not true at this point. In fact, one divisional commander and most of two division's staffs were killed by a single German shell. Haig, in particular, comes across as a hero -- visiting the front lines, scraping together reserves to meet each German breakthrough and generally performing just as a good commander should. Although the author does not make this point, it is obvious that the Germans giving up the attack just when the British line was on the verge of collapse made a strong impression on him. Haig's determination to keep up attacks at (for instance) the Somme was probably based on his intention not to make this mistake; to 'out last' the Germans in the attack, as he had on the defense at First Ypres.