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The Confusion of Command: The Memoirs of Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly 'Snowball' Snow 1914 -1918 [Hardcover]

Dan Snow , Mark Pottle
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
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Book Description

17 Feb 2011
The enemy has got to be fought everywhere and hard... Everything is going very well indeed and no one minds the losses as long as we are moving. The never-before-published papers of General Sir Thomas D Oyly Snow provide a remarkable insight into the mindset of the Great War commanders. Despite being severely injured during the first Battle of the Marne when his horse fell and rolled over him, cracking his pelvis Snow served at some of the most important battles of the Western Front. His memoirs include the battle of Loos, the second battle of Ypres, the battles of Arras and Cambrai, the retreat from Mons and was responsible for the diversionary attack on Gommecourt on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme. This volume is comprised of vivid extracts from contemporary notes that only an eyewitness can offer coupled with frank postwar reflections that show the wisdom of hindsight and perspective, which brings an open awareness of military folly. D Oyly Snow died in London, aged 82, on 30 August 1940. This first edition of his letters and memoirs published exactly 70 years after his death has been introduced by his great grandson, the broadcaster and author Dan Snow.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Frontline Books; hardcover edition (17 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848325754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848325753
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Dan Snow is an award-winning radio, television presenter and author. He presented the BBC series Battlefield Britain in 2004, which won a BAFTA. Mark Pottle was a research fellow at Wolfson College and co-editor of We Hope To Get Word Tomorrow, published by Frontline Books (2009).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars 3 May 2011
By ejh
This books gives the opportunity to step into the mind of Lieutenant General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow through the memoirs he kept from 1914 to 1915 during the first world war and documents the retreat from Mons, the battle of Le Cateau and the second battle of Ypres. Snow was a divisional commander and despite falling from a horse and suffering a serious injury he went on to lead the fighting at Ypres, Arras and Cambrai and made the command to attack the Gommecourt which failed and cost several lives. After this defeat he was critical of his subordinate, Major E.J. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley who was controversially dismissed by Snow showing not only his power but show the self preserving instincts that he recognized and, as his memoirs make clear, strongly disapproved of in his senior Colleagues. Snow also documents his experiences as a commander and the limitations of both his and others commands during the war. He also makes key observations towards the lack of communications which made it hard for commanders to operate effectively.

For fans of the war or history in general this book is a must, its edited wonderfully by Dan Snow & Mark Pottle and gives eyewitness accounts of major engagements early in the war in great detail including running battles to warfare in the trenches.

The book also comes with a foreword from the generals grandson who also co-edited the book in which he tells of his fascination with generals from the war and the history surrounding it adding a touch of nostalgia and warmth to the book as he puts together this book about his Grandfather that he never met.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The negatives.

The book is just over 200 pages long (with an additional 30 or so pages for a Forward/Introduction). But reading the memoir (in two parts) itself is comparatively short - pages 5-49 and pages 75-118. Thus, the majority of this book concerns notes/referencing/appendixes. As a History (BA) undergraduate, I found these sections useful, but they are not particularly engaging for non-academics (lots of lists of regiments etc.).

Next, Snow's memoir is heavily detailed. As it was not written for a `popular history' audience, he refers to endless divisions/regiments/officers which fly above the head of the casual reader. I found this particularly the case with the first part of the memoir regarding the retreat from Mons.

The positives.

I found the memoir easier to read as it goes on. The second part, regarding Second Ypres, is particularly fast flowing and yet retains enormous detail. Thus, one finishes the memoir with general satisfaction.

Similarly, a `confusion of command' is well represented throughout the memoir; one finishes the book with the sheer sense of insecurity that was present on the Western Front in the early years. In the final pages, Snow again concisely outlines the key problems to leave a lasting impact.

The editing job by Snow and Pottle is also superb. For those who simply wish to read the book for enjoyment, their introduction is well written in introducing Snow's service, and their notes for extracts of the text are understanding. For those who are have more interest in the detail, perhaps for academic purposes, an extraordinary level of detail has been included in referencing and appendixes that refer to individual divisions, brigades and corps which participated.

The verdict.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 29 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rather a different look at the Western Front through the eyes of a relation - Dan Snow of TV fame - and Mark Pottle an Oxford historian with a growing reputation for excellent research. It seeks to contextualise the general's diary entries with modern scholarship about the campaigns that he writes about. I believe Snow fell from his horse while out riding and broke his hip, invaliding him from the Front - eliciting an order from Army HQ that senior officers were forbidden to ride for pleasure or exercise!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How we won WW1 30 Nov 2011
The title says it all.

A MUST READ for any student(and probably everybody) of the way the army (and the Politicians ?)was/were organised at that time, and the lessons that could be drawn from it. I am sure the modern army is not quite like this!
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