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4.7 out of 5 stars37
4.7 out of 5 stars
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The 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 was the signal to publish all manner of books and documentary programmes devoted to that particular war. Whereas many of the resultant products suffer from an embarrassing lack of competent research it is always a pleasure to reveal one which stands apart from the rest - if only because it really is that good. As one who spends almost every waking hour immersed in researching lost ships (it's what I do!), I am aware of the complexities of uncovering relevant and accurate information. Having carefully studied this particular product, it is quite clear author Stephen Bull has mastered the art of finding those all-important facts. Having done so, he has put them together in an immensely readable, educational and hugely enjoyable work.

For those who know little or nothing about `Trench Warfare' - where neither side gained or lost anything appreciable - apart from thousands of lives, this work is a revelation. For those who thought they already knew all there was to know, I suspect it will also prove to be an education. For those who wish to study the subject - look no further.

After an illuminating Introduction, the book commences with an equally informative Chronology which the reader will continue to consult as the book is studied. We are then treated to an overview of the armies involved and of the beginning of Trench Warfare. All soldiers have to `dig-in' and no ground gives way easily when you are using an army-issue folding spade at a time of desperately wanting to become instantly hidden from the enemy. Who would have thought that those first defensive positions across the Western Front would have been extended and modified to such extreme limits.

There then follows chapters on; `Trenchtown,' New Weapons and Tactics, Gas, Raiding & Sniping, Mining, Concrete Bunkers, the Tank and Over the Top before ending with; Conclusion, Notes, Bibliography and Index.

The book is lavishly illustrated throughout with an excellent selection of (mostly b&w) historic photographs which are really impressive for their quality in addition to the breadth of subject covered. Whereas we are often asked to accept poor quality pictures from this period in time, these are particularly outstanding... Of the hundreds of images to consider, I particularly liked the photo of US Lt. Browning firing the machine gun designed by his father and the one showing New Zealand soldiers holding a massive rifle - designed to penetrate the Tank!

There are also a number of colour plates including trench maps, documents, artwork and colour photographs. These include a wide variety of subjects such as; equipment, particular scenes, uniforms and significant personalities - such as Captain Albert Ball who had already earned the VC, DSO and MC by the time he died at the age of 20.

The most captivating element of those photographs, however, is how much the soldiers from all sides looked and dressed almost exactly the same.

Altogether, I would suggest this is as complete an explanation of the subject as we are likely to find and I congratulate both author and publisher for such an excellent product.

British army major (retired)
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on 1 December 2014
Superb read.ideal for someone (like myself) who is into world war 1 and is a novice about the basics of trench warfare.the book tells you all about the things you should know if you were sent into the trenches.wish I had read this book before reading the many books on ww1 that I have.This book has taught me so much and will make me understand the life in the trench and everything about how trenches were built,what iron rations were (never knew till now)for example. I'm going to re-read my books again after what this book has taught me.I never wanted it to finish. Highly recommended. Ideal for school projects too.
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on 14 November 2014
Good detail sensitively told with generous illustrations and quotations from official sources and from those who experienced this new and dreadful warfare.I found this book interesting, informative, not a little gruesome and at times rather sad.
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on 19 November 2015
A truly insightful history of the evolution of trench warfare. Stalemate , static warfare, attrition, defence, technological development, condition of living and survival are fully explored. A highly literary achievement.
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on 30 October 2014
An extremely well written and superbly researched book. The author has written in such a way that any person with interest in the Great War will find this a worthwhile read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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on 19 September 2014
An interesting eyeopening walk through the evolving tactics that were employed to progress the war on the western front. The learning curve was huge and the solders very adaptable. The Trench's themselves were not the worse place to be, going over the top was.
I read it on a Kindle paper white and was not able to study the maps.
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on 3 January 2015
I thought I'd knew so so much concerning the great war, but on reading this book, I feel humbled by its shear weight of information and the authors knowledge.
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on 4 March 2011
Having a deep interest in WWI and the minds and the ideas of the time, I found this book not only great in terms of it's technical description of trench warfare and it's combatants, but also the shift in warfare and the developments that took place. The book also talks about the common misconceptions that have built up after almost 100 years, and takes you through what happened and why, and what came out of it.

There is no doubt that the war was bloody and ultimately futile, but the book leaves the politics to one side and concentrates on the trench techniques and technologies that developed over the years. From one man covers in 1914 to the Hindenburg defensive line of 1917, the book covers it all.
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on 4 May 2016
My Dad wanted a book on the trenches of Xmas, this is very informative and he really enjoyed it.
5 stars, an interesting read - recommend.
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on 17 October 2014
brings home to the modern reader what life was really like for the unfortunates inhabiting , fighting, and dying in the trenches.
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