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They Called it Passchendaele: The Story of the Battle of Ypres and of the Men Who Fought in it

They Called it Passchendaele: The Story of the Battle of Ypres and of the Men Who Fought in it [Kindle Edition]

Lyn MacDonald
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Her basic inspiration is compassion, her technique is scrupulously painstaking. And her application in finding, interviewing and editing innumerable contributions can only be admired (Daily Telegraph)

Brilliantly planned...the knitting together, the arrangement [is] formidable (Eric Partridge Irish Press)

Product Description

The third battle of Ypres, culminating in a desperate struggle for the ridge and little village of Passchendaele, was one of the most appalling campaigns in the First World War. In this masterly piece of oral history, Lyn Macdonald lets over 600 participants speak for themselves. A million Tommies, Canadians and Anzacs assembled at the Ypres Salient in the summer of 1917, mostly raw young troops keen to do their bit for King and Country. This book tells their tale of mounting disillusion amid mud, terror and desperate privation, yet it is also a story of immense courage, comradeship, songs, high spirits and bawdy humour. They Called It Passchendaele portrays the human realities behind one of the most disastrous events in the history of warfare.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3636 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Jun 1993)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141960310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141960319
  • ASIN: B004LLIHQ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,906 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History today ! 9 Aug 2004
I first read this book with only an outline understanding of WW1 - my Grandfather fought, and was wounded, at Passchendaele.
This led to adult curiosity.
I never studied history at school, but this book brought home to me the importance of the subject - it's not about dates and places, it's about people, ordinary people like my Grandfather, who not only suffered, what to us now is, unimaginable hardship - trust me, you have to read this book to even begin to imagine - but many of whom, in fact far to many of whom, paid for the world in which we live today with their lives.
Are we too prepared to be counted in this way today ?
I have gone on to read all of Lyn McDonald's books on the First War, and would recommend that if you have even the slightest interest in not just the overall social and political landscape of the world during WW1, but more importantly want to actually know what it was like to have been in the front line - to hear the words of those who actually were there - then this, 'Somme' and Lyn McDonald's other books are not only compelling and compulsive, but almost compulsory !
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mud and blood. An terrifying account. 8 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book by Lyn MacDonald adds to an impressive range of WW1 books by the author. The strength of her books lies in the quality of research that records the first hand accounts of WW1 soldiers and for that reason alone all of her writing represents an important archive of the war. This particular book deals with the 3rd battle of Ypres - known as Passchendaele. I was vaguely aware of the line from Siegfied Sasoon's poem "Memorial Tablet" from which the title of this book is taken:
I died in hell- (They called it Passchendaele)
but never really knew what it meant until I read this book. The book deals with the allied advance from the Ypres salient in Belgium, 1917, starting with the Battle of Messines, which caused approximately 24,000 casualties but was at least a tactical success. The ultimate aim of the campaign was to capture the town of Passchendaele but this dragged on for a further 156 days during ever deteriorating weather. What struck me most about this book was the battle the allies had against the rain and mud. Many people were casualties from the obvious hazards of war but I found it difficult to conceive that so many had simply drowned in the mud. The casualties' bodies were churned into the morass from the constant shelling until the whole thing became a sorry, bloody quagmire of unimaginable proportions. Many tens of thousands of men were never recovered from this battlefield and their names can be found on the Mennen Gate in Ypres today. The recollections from the men who were there are told in such a matter-of-fact manner that one can only wonder how they managed to stay intact as human beings.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The true story of the harrowing slaughter at Passchendaele, in the words of the very soldiers who were actually there.
The author, Lyn MacDonald, has done everyone a great service in interviewing these survivors and portraying their story to us all.
Stories of brave, terrified young men in appalling conditions.
Passchendaele is a name which represents the epitome of horror to anyone with a knowledge of the First World War.
As these aged survivors become less and less with each passing year, we cannot allow their experiences to be forgotten.
This book and others like it by Lyn MacDonald ('The Somme' & 'The Roses Of No Man's Land'), which concentrate on the real life experiences of the soldiers who did the fighting, are indispensable.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MacDonald delivers again 5 Nov 2003
Over the last two decades Lyn MacDonald has established a reputation as ‘the recording angel of the common soldier’ with a series of powerful volumes exploring the experiences of fighting men on the Western Front. She has conducted interviews with hundreds of veterans and uses a range of private papers and first hand accounts to weave a rich tapestry of human life in time of war. They Called it Passchendaele was the first of her seven works about the Western Front, and recently I read it for the second time.
Third Ypres occupies a particular place of horror in the British collective memory of warfare, for the squalor, desolation - and above all mud - in which it was fought. The personal accounts upon which MacDonald relies bring a vivid immediacy to the description of life, death and the conditions that is frequently missing from secondary works. 2nd Lieutenant H.L. Birks (Tank Corps) describes arriving in the salient:
'You’d almost abandon hope. And as you got further out you got this awful smell of death. You could literally smell it. It was just a complete abomination of desolation. I wept when I came into the salient'.
MacDonald adds an interesting feature that is of great benefit to visitors to the area, by supplying accurate sketch maps showing the location of the major contributors at key moments in battle.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
As are all Lyn MacDonalds books, detailed, full of letters and first hand accounts from the brave men and women and hard to put down
Published 15 days ago by Sara Jane Pierrepont
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
yet another great ex[position of the times
Published 16 days ago by Jesse R
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read.
A very well written book, plenty to think about (the futility of war). An absolute must read for WW1 research.
Published 16 days ago by Mrs. Beverly Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very moving
Published 28 days ago by Barrie Paddon
5.0 out of 5 stars A very worthwhile read
Extremely informative, yet heart wrenching due to some of the personal account and detail given. There is a lot of the references for places and events which can still be visited... Read more
Published 1 month ago by gnlwatson
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book !
An excellent book by an excellent author. I have actually read it several times, this purchase was for my father who also thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 2 months ago by Mr Trevor M Goodwin
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Purchase
I purchasd this book as 'recommended reading matter for a Battlefields of WWI Tour' to be undertaken shortly. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Elaine
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,graphic and personal
It not only gives the history,but graphic and often moving personal insights into soldiers experiences My father was on this battlefield with the HLI '
Published 5 months ago by Ian R. Macgregor
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
this book is well worth buying, it gives a great picture of what all the troops went through in that hell hole of death
Published 6 months ago by barry taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars a book to read
A very movindg by detailed book that coves a lot of stories. I can reccomend this book to anyone interested in ww1
Published 7 months ago by w.j.power
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