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The Somme Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Orion (2 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752872397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752872391
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.4 x 13.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,984,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Hart has worked as the Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He is the author of several books on the Great War. His latest work is 'Voices from the Front: An Oral History of the Great War'.
A Facebook page has been established to publicise the book and provide links to the source interviews at the Imperial War Museum.
A link is here:

Product Description


Peter Hart pays handsome tribut to the 'ordinary soldiers...' ... one could not wish for a more appropriate testimony to that generation for which the Somme was much more than a topic for academic research or a source of poignant reflection. (LITERARY REVIEW)

A monumental feat of research, his book is also a memorial of the most compelling kind to the hundreds of individuals whose diaries, letters and recollections are presented so vividly here. (THE SCOTSMAN)

[Hart] has produced a remarkably even-handed account... and the first-person accounts he has unearthed are rich in vivid images... (SUNDAY TIMES)

Hart has succeeded in presenting his massive subject with objective clarity... the material gives it curious immediacy... brilliantly well-written extracts... Prepare to be enlightened, but prepare to feel respect for all the men involved. (SOLDIER MAGAZINE)

Excellent (TLS)

Hart is an accomplished author of anecdotal histories and here he is on top form... it deserves a wide readership. (BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A major new history of the most infamous battle of the First World War, as described by the men who fought it. Abridged edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By J. Grundy VINE VOICE on 2 Aug. 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I cannot praise this book enough! Hyperbole is not something that I am given to but for any book on such a well trodden subject as the Somme to be as engaging as this signals a major achievement.
What I believe sets this book apart from many that I have read is the strength of genuine feeling that the author has for the men who experienced the battle. That is not necessarily the impression I get from some authors. You do get a real sense of how deeply moved he was when laying out the first hand accounts of men who underwent such appalling experiences. The book never, though, descends into sentimentality.
It would be a book that I would happily recommend to anyone who'd never read anything about the Somme or to someone who had their own personal equivalent of the British Library in the spare room. As such, it stands in a clear line from Martin Middlebrook's classic, "The First Day on the Somme", and stands some what higher, in my view, than Lynn McDonald's book, "Somme", good book though that is.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Martin Hornby on 30 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
'The Somme'. To many people these few words have come to be bywords for murder, mayhem and pointless slaughter. They conjure up views of Chateau Generals and poor Tommy Atkins living in fetid trenches waiting to die in a hail of machine gun bullets.
At long last we have a book which challenges this often heard view of the battle of the Somme. For nearly 90 years many eminent military historians have helped to colour the views of our nation with the same old bigoted, jaundiced and ill informed view of this great but tragic battle.
In this work Peter Hart looks at the battle in a logical and orderly manner. The book starts by giving the reasons why Douglas Haig was forced into fighting on the chalk downlands of the Somme. Once the political reasons for the battle are covered he moves smoothly to the tumultuous first day. This starts at Gommecourt and steadily moves southwards along the battleline to Maricourt on the banks of the river Somme. All through the text one sees an educated analysis of the opening day's events, which are greatly aided by new facsimiles of the Official Histories maps.
Upon the conclusion of the first day the reader is then taken through the further battles that comprise the Battle of the Somme. All the time there is logical analysis of the Generals actions. In many parts one is made aware of unforgivable errors made by Haig, Rawlinson and others which lead to the death of many thousands of men. But one is also made aware of incidents that will hopefully lay down the myth of Lions led by Donkeys! The analysis of the battles is clear and concise, sticking to known facts. All too often we are served up myth and legend, in what are frankly pseudo histories of this conflict.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Webb on 13 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
I saw a review of this book the New York Times ( extract below) and totally agree with Max Boot's take on a great piece of work.

"The Monstrous Anger of the Guns. By MAX BOOT. Published: January 2, 2009. For most of us today, the bloodlettings of World War I are refracted through the despairing work of Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and other soldier-writers. As Peter Hart notes, the contemporary view of the Somme "can be brutally summarized in just five words: `the pity of it all.' Politicians are portrayed as Machiavellian, but simultaneously weak, generals are stupid, soldiers are brave helpless victims and war poets -- war poets are the latter-day saints made flesh."

Hart, the oral historian at the Imperial War Museum in London, offers a different perspective in "The Somme." While not flinching from the horrors of trench warfare, he argues that the carnage was hardly senseless. In his view, attempts by Winston Churchill and other strategists to find a shortcut to winning the war were fundamentally flawed. The soldiers dispatched to Gallipoli, Salonika and Mesopotamia would have been better employed, he believes, in battering German defenses on the Western Front -- the only place where the kaiser could have been defeated.

Even more daringly, he comes to the defense of Douglas Haig, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force, who has usually been depicted as an unimaginative, uncaring idiot who sent the flower of British youth to an early grave for no good reason. Hart argues that even though Haig made plenty of tactical mistakes, "the broad thrust of Haig's strategy in 1916 was probably correct. . . . Haig's way was excruciatingly painful, but it was the only realistic way at the time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David McIntyre on 30 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
The best book on this battle i have ever read,my great uncle was wounded on the Somme living in pain for the rest of his life, Peter Harts book is like Richard Houghs book on the R.N.during world war two, read and weep. The brave French soldiers are included,brutal acts not brushed over. Explained for me at least is how the high command tried to break the deadlock in near impossible conditions against one tough enemy and after the war poor old Haig having to contend with all those articulate types like Lloyd George writing memoirs in the nothing to do with me guv style. A truly brilliant book.
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