12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another fine work in an excellent series, 4 Nov 2010
Having previously purchased the three previous volumes of panorama campaigns I was thrilled to see that another volume was forthcoming and this one on Arras. Passchendaele, and the Somme were both magisterial works, while the panoramas of the western front incorporated some of the finest photography of the western front i had ever seen. Therefore when the much less known Battle of Arras was published i was thrilled to see it indeed, and snatched one up when it became available immediately.
I was not disappointed. This volume fills a gap in one of the truly horrific battles of the Great War. There were very few previous volumes written about the spring 1917 campaign and this fine work has completely redressed this situation. Although some previous works have been written about Vimy Ridge and the tremendous triumph of the Canadian Corps, or from the Australian perspective of the brutal battles of Bullecourt, the only previous work to discuss the entire campaign as a whole was Jonathan Phillips "Cheerful Sacrifice" Although his work was well done, Mr. Barton's and Mr. Banning's work IS the definitive general history of this campaign. Although little heard of, certainly outside of England, this 40 day battle produced casualty figures 25 percent higher then that on the Somme and nearly double those of Passchendaele on a day to day basis. The battles here are covered in detail, the triumph initially at Vimy, the indecision and inaction which followed, the blunders of leadership and lost opportunities, the degeneration into bloody stalemate, the few meager gains, stiffening German resistance, and the daunting Hindenburg Line. The eventual cessation of the campaign after bloody losses and shattered gains of ground, and all in support of the French Nivelle offensive which in itself was a catastrophe for French arms and should never have been undertaken. All this, more or less, as a sacrifice to an ally, in France, whose own offensive never stood a chance. And all the while as Sir Douglas Haig had his real eyes on Flanders and the North Sea ports. In the end it is the tragic suffering of the men themselves, the brutality of the fighting, the heroic efforts of support and medical men to do the best they could for their comrades, this is the enduring strength of this book. All for a campaign viewed as only a diversion. A diversion which cost 160,000 British and Commonwealth casualties, and was then shunted aside for another go at Ypres. But it was, in its own right a brutal savage battle indeed and it deserved this quality of a book written about it, largely forgotten tho it may be. A fine job by Mr. Barton and Mr. Banning in retelling this fascinating, brutal, and tragic tale. And fine work in emphasizing the sacrifice and triumph of the human spirit by the men involved. Keep up the good work!