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The Somme: A New History (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) Paperback – 8 Jan 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (8 Jan. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366491
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.6 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Sheffield does not flinch from the operation's failures, but also argues that it was a pivotal moment when the British army began to be tranformed from an amateur force to the professional unit that was to rule the world. Prefaced by Richard Holmes this is an engaging and readable study.' HAM & HIGH 14/02/03 'Don't be tempted to cry "not another book about the Somme" because this is a classy and clear analysis of the entire battle, complete with rare photographs. Strong on analysis and detail, it presents the case that the Somme was not an unmitigated catastrophe. One of the best.' * * * * * SCOTTISH LEGION NEWS, April/May 2003 'For the latest assessment on this iconic battle from a leading military historian, this book cannot be beaten.' David Seymour, MILITARY ILLUSTRATED, April 2003 THE SOMME has been reviewed in Soldier magazine (March 03). Gary Sheffield was interviewed on GMTV on Sunday 16th February and on BBC RADIO LINCOLNSHIRE. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A concise account of the most famous battle of the First World War, by a leading military academic and expert on the conflict.

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In hindsight, there seems to be a sense of terrible inevitability about the battle of the Somme. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Mar. 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent introduction to the battle in which he fell. It handles the story of Kitchener's Army and its baptism of fire very well.
Sheffield is very much of the Revisionist school - perhaps a crude term for a group of historians trying hard to reveal the First World War as more than a pointless bloodbath of the 'Blackadder' caricature.
Gary Sheffield's other book 'Forgotten Victory' very much upholds this view, and 'The Somme' also tries to depict the battle as a disaster for the German Army too, whose divisions were ground down in the attritional confrontations that modern warfare decreed.
Sheffield is not wholly convincing, but does raise powerful questions in this excellent overview. Books in this Cassell series are also worth buying for Richard Holmes' excellent introductions.
It is an overview, usually on divisional level - if you are looking for the minutiae of battle at battalion level, look to Oen and Sword's 'Battlefield Europe - Somme' series instead.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kentspur VINE VOICE on 29 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
I don't think Gary Sheffield claims this work to be the definitive 'Somme' history and, in that, he's right.
Dr Sheffield is carving out a niche as a military historian - with the inevitable TV appearances - who questions the received view that the First World War was, essentially, a gory waste of time where good men were led to their deaths by 'donkeys'.
His book 'Forgotten Victory' expounds this theme and this book treads similar ground. The First Day of the Somme - July 1st 1916 - was the worst in British Military History (give or take the Fall of Singapore and the Battle of Isandhlwana.) Around 20,000 men were killed in disastrous attacks - most of whom never made it to the German trench line, a large proportion didn't even make it to the jumping off point.
Dr Sheffield makes the point that over the rest of the battle - which dragged on for months - German losses matched or exceeded the Allied ones and the battle was - indeed - the 'muddy grave of the German field army.' Also he argues that the British learnt valuable lessons on the Somme which was to transform the Army into the efficient tool of late 1918 when substantial breakthroughs were made.
A few points. Firstly this argument is nothing new. I was inspired to watch my Great War dvd after reading this and there were similar arguments, espoused by the great Haig biographer John Terraine - among other script-writers.
Secondly the lessons of the Somme were patently not learnt by Paschendaele, when many of the same mistakes were made. Yes war-fighting is a learning process, but that does not mean that getting thousands slaughtered is right or unavoidable if you are going to get better at it.
The Somme is still better viewed as some sort of disaster rather than a battle, in my opinion. There had to be a better way.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Tom MacFarlane on 12 April 2003
Format: Hardcover
Less controversial in tone than his revious book "Forgotten Victory", Sheffield makes an excellent case for viewing this appalling battle as a strategic defeat for the German war machine.
He shows that in the months from July 1 1916 to the end of the Battle in November 1916, the British Army made very significant progress to becoming the fighting machine which would play the significant role in Germany's defeat two years later.
He also shows, convincingly, that there was no alternative to Haig waiting in the wings, and that Haig was able to learn from the terrible experiences which Kitchener's "New Army" endured.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philippe Green on 9 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very fair corrective to 'The Donkeys' et al.
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By pjm on 19 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent, and informative
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