Top positive review
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Look no further!
on 26 August 2014
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)