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They Called it Passchendaele: The Story of the Battle of Ypres and of the Men Who Fought in it Paperback – 24 Jun 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Jun 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140165096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140165098
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Neil Johnson on 9 Aug 2004
Format: Paperback
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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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Page VINE VOICE on 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 on 24 Aug 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By S. G. Lingard on 5 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback
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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