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In The Footsteps of Private Lynch [Hardcover]

Will Davies
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.99
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Book Description

23 April 2009

With a mighty roar the shell explodes spouting flame and phosphorous fumes everywhere. Mud is showered over everyone as pieces of shell fly over prone bodies. A man five feet ahead of me is sobbing - queer, panting gasping sobs. He bends his head towards his stomach just twice and is still. We've had our baptism of fire, seen our first man killed...

When Will Davies discovered the manuscript for Somme Mud he knew he had found a lost treasure. Private Lynch's powerful, personal story of his time in the trenches of the Somme has become a classic. In this new book, Will Davies meticulously follows in the footsteps of Lynch and his battalion, the 45th - from their long route marches to lice ridden billets, into the frontline and seeing action at such infamous battles as Messines, Dernancourt, Stormy Trench and Villers Bretonneux, and on the last great push to final victory after August 1918.

Incorporating an innovative 'then and now' approach in words and pictures, the author assesses the impact Lynch and those like him had both on the battlefield and in the greater context of the war on the Western Front. Written in a lively and accessible style, it sheds light on the campaigns and offensives, the weapons and the equipment, the food, the living conditions and the neglected minutiae of war and in so doing brings to life the young men who sacrificed their youth over 90 years ago.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First UK printing. edition (23 April 2009)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0385616775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385616775
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,358,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Retracing the experiences of a private soldier in the Great War - the follow-up to the bestselling First World War memoir Somme Mud.

From the Inside Flap

"With a mighty roar the shell explodes, spouting flame and phosphorous fumes everywhere. Mud is showered over everyone as pieces of shell fly over prone bodies. A man five feet ahead of me is sobbing - queer, panting, gasping sobs. He bends his head towards his stomach just twice and is still. We've had our baptism of fire, seen our first man killed . . . "

When Will Davies discovered the manuscript for Somme Mud he knew he'd stumbled upon a lost treasure. Private Edward Lynch's powerful account of his experience of the war in the trenches has since become a classic.

In response to readers' enquiries and to satisfy his own curiosity, Will Davies delved further into the background to Private Lynch's personal story. The result is a fascinating contextual history of the war in France as experienced by an eighteen-year-old soldier and his comrades. In retracing the progress of Lynch and the 45th Battalion, the AIF - from the long route marches to flea-ridden billets, into the front line against the enemy at such infamous as Messines and Dernancourt, Stormy Trench and Villers-Bretonneux, and on to the great push to the final victory after August 1918 - he shines unique light on life and death in the trenches, the ebb and flow of war, and what was happening in the wider world.

Revisiting these battlefields today, it is hard to imagine that they were once scenes of utter devastation and bloodshed. But in doing so and attempting to understand their significance, this book pays tribute to the young men who over ninety years ago sacrificed so much.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Capable support of a classic account 6 Aug 2009
By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Read the complete subtitle carefully: this is an extended guide to the historical background of Somme Mud that can become a retelling of the story of a classic WW1 memoir. It follows on from the incomparable Somme Mud, Pte EPF Lynch's account of his service which is, as is stated early in this book, an ANZAC `All Quiet on the Western Front'.

This book isn't quite what I'd hoped for. I expected something like a travelogue of Australian WW1 locations and battle sites on the Western Front. Occasionally this book performs that function, but in essence it is a commentary on Somme Mud that supports and expands on the original text. There are some interesting parallel comparisons between Lynch's narrative, unit war diaries and Bean's official history, but I'd have loved to have seen some other accounts from soldiers in the same actions. Sometimes this book becomes a set of notes to Somme Mud, extended annotations that might have been better being integrated into former book's text.

I'm being too harsh. There is an excellent sequence of then and now photographs in the middle which hint what this book might have been. Will Davies' editing of Somme Mud was superlative, and his stock is riding high after introducing such a great book to the Great War canon. This book is sensitively and honestly written. Together, both books would make an excellent point of entry into reading about the Great War for GCSE or A level English or History. Trench life and how it impacted on an ordinary young soldier is clarified and made vivid. Start at the top if you are an inexperienced WW1 reader, make a discovery if you are a `veteran' reader. If this book adds just a little extra information and enjoyment to Lynch's classic account, it's done it's job.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enthusiastic enough 16 April 2011
I picked this book up at an airport while waiting for a flight. It served admirably to fill the time, and was a decent enough read on the aeroplane. It also served it's purpose in whetting my appetite for the real volume - Somme Mud - which is a book I had been aware of, but had avoided due to its title (thinking that it was another 'rats as big as cats, pot-boiler). Clearly I was wrong. Though the present book is an enthusiastic guide to the contents of Somme Mud, it also stands alone as a review of the life of the average soldier in the AIF, and, as such, is relatively harmless. You can ignore the mild snipes here and there: 'Australia displayed its strength on the field by continually beating England for a decade at cricket and rugby...' (p. 16, yawn; "I'm sick of the old clichés, get me some new ones" as Lois B Meyer reputedly said), but there are some slips that do irritate. I know these creep into every book written - but I must correct the 'Service Rum, Dilute' (pp. 106,310) meaning for the SRD printed on rum jars. The rum wasn't diluted as stated on p. 106, and the acronym stood simply for Supply Reserve Depot, which was a stores depot in Woolwich. Verdict? A reasonable light read and an advertisement for the main text. It has done it's job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review of in the footsteps of Private Lynch 9 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was one of two books on aspects of the First World War which I opted to include in my library of First World War books. I found it both interesting and helpful in describing conditions at that time that soldiers had to endure.
The book was in good condition and met its specification.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2.0 out of 5 stars Sadly, doesn't make any sort of grade at all. 10 Sep 2010
By Owen Hughes - Published on
Especially considering the amount of other material available, but for a number of other key reasons as well, this book is simply not worth the time. I find that a sad comment to make about an author who has proven (even in his introduction to this book) that he is a capable writer, but it is how I feel after making such difficult headway through the first 50 pages. In fact, after being reminded four or five times that the frontline troops often had mud up to their knees, I was thinking that I was having similar trouble wading through this muck.

The main problem is: the author does not really know where he is going. Far from being "in the footsteps" of Private Lynch, we are served a rehash of material from other sources which is quite unnecessary and, in terms of this book, often irrelevant. The book has been poorly edited, leading to much repetition and making the reader's task ever more difficult. Since we cannot really get close to the Private in question, the book has little or no colour. It is a lifeless thing, a patchwork made up from various sources including the book "Somme Mud" by Lynch himself, various historical documents and input from the author, all stitched together rather haphazardly. Much of the text seems to be mere padding, as various statistics are inserted here and there, often unrelated to the actual storyline. There's no atmosphere, no thread, no real story. Most unfortunate as I was looking forward to reading this. I suppose if you have read almost nothing about WWI trench warfare, you might find some interest, but there are much much better books on exactly the same subject.
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