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The Western Front Hardcover – 15 Jul 1999

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; UNKNOWN edition (15 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 056338493X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563384939
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Holmes was one of Britain's most successful historians and television presenters. Author of the best-selling Tommy, Redcoat and Wellington: The Iron Duke, he has also written and presented television series for the BBC. As well as serving in the TA, he taught military history at Sandhurst and, latterly, as Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. Richard Holmes died suddenly on 30 April 2011 from pneumonia, aged 65.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Best known for his BBC series presentations in War Walks and War Walks II, military history buff Richard Holmes chronicles the bloodiest days of World War I in The Western Front. This detailed compendium covers everything from how the front was created and the British Army in France, to the battle of Verdun and the last Hundred Days of the war. Those put off by lengthy historical accounts will find comfort in Holmes' concise layout and heartfelt narrative. What's more, it's filled with photos, illustrations, diagrams, maps and quotations that give needed imagery to a highly complex and inhuman four years of history. As in the words of one French solider who was not able to distinguish "if the mud were flesh or the flesh were mud."

Of the 947,000 allied soldiers who died during the war, 750,000 died on the front; 128 000 are missing. Holmes captures the scale and intensity of the Great War and never lets you forget the human price: "As we now are, so once were they; as they now are, so must we be. Let us remember them all, not with bravado or bombast, but with the respect that their sacrifice demands." --Ida Kulest

Review

"Top notch" (Independent)

"A remarkable achievement" (Daily Mail)

"Authoritative, concise, wide-ranging and readable ... it is hard to see how Richard Holmes' The Western Front can be bettered" (BBC History Magazine) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jun. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is intended to accompany the television series of the same name and as such is not a "heavyweight" history of the war. It is by necessity brief and concise. However, what it does, it does very well indeed. There are a large number of one volume histories of the war available. These are the books to which most readers looking for an introduction to the Great War will look at first. However, many of these one volume histories, while still relevant as part of the war's historiography, argue views which are heavily influenced by personal politics and are not consistent with much of the excellent research which is being produced today, which is doing something to redress the balance in favour of the much maligned generals. One volume histories which fall into this category include, in my opinion the works of A.J.P. Taylor and B.H. Liddell-Hart, both of which are texts which frequently find their way into the hands of Great War virgins. As someone who falls very much into the camp that would like to look at the war more in terms of military, rather than social, history this book fills the gap in the one volume market nicely. The introduction also provides an excellent section dealing with the historiography of the war, which should be of further use to the novice enthusiast. If you're looking for a one volume history of the war, you could certainly do far worse than to get your sticky little hands on this. If you're looking for a book that deals with the specifics of any particular campaign or aspect of the war, this is not really for you. Also note that it does not deal with fronts other than the Western Front in any detail. Given the title however, I think it can be forgiven this!Read more ›
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Herakles on 9 May 2000
Format: Hardcover
There has been plenty of time since the end of World War 1 for appraisals and only recently have they become more balanced and fair than the ones written before when hate was still in the hearts of many. Holmes book is a brilliant overview of the war written in a manner we have come to expect from this outstanding historian. That it differs so much from the quite trite TV series that it supports, says a lot about the medium.
This is not a detailed description of the war. Rather an overview and a outstandingly fair one. Not only does he carefully discuss the stance taken by many of his colleagues but he also explains things from the German point of view. For many people, World War 1 is some vague happening in the distant past. Few realise that it moulded this century and that we are still experiencing its effects. That interest in the war is increasing is only a good thing and modern fair books like this one are needed now.
As a starting point, one could do no better than Holmes book. My one grizzle is the lack of references.
His chapter on the generals will annoy anyone who still believes the Lions led by donkeys approach, a view thankfully now discredited. It is a fair, accurate and most plausible explanation of the role of the generals that goes a long way to explain why horrors like The Somme were perpetrated.
Frankly I can't wait for him to turn his attention to Gallipoli, that other ignored and vital war zone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FTM Doyle on 30 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
But then, so are all of Richard Holmes' books. He was a great military historian, who saw service, understood the squaddie, and walked or rode over many military engagements to help him understand the military decisions made in times of conflict.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Edward C Carter on 6 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great description, without too much detail. A final chapter about the overall war putting the western front into perspective was very interesting. A sadly missed author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By haegeman rene on 7 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If someone should like to read a book about the first world war on the western front you should read this work by Richard Holmes.It is a clear and good understandable work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By meggiepal on 6 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Vey well written and easy to follow.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great read with the broad details explained so well as only Richard did. He stands back one pace from the detail (read Peter Barton for this) and paints the broad picture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sue on 5 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good read - worth reading
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