on 3 December 2005
1915 The Death of Innocence is one of those books, that just when you think the narrative can not get any more distressing, it does, yet something makes you want to read on.
The narrative is at times horrific, in its description of the horrors of trench warfare, in particular the use of poison gas at Ypres at 1915 and the slaughter at Loos, in September of that year, when the British army lost over 10,00 men in a matter of hours. Lyn Macdonald is also very good on the realtionship, or lack of it, between Douglas Haig, and Sir John French.
What emerges is a sense of the command structure being out of its depth, and trying to face up to modern warfare, using 19 c methods and tactics. In hindsight it is easy to see the slaugher on the Somme, the following year as only a matter of time.
At times the narrative seems very close to our own age, esp when she uses the voices of the Tommies themselves. These were mainly young men, looking for a bit of excitment, and the chance to travel. What they wittnessed defies belief. In particular the account of the troop train diaster, near Gretna in 1915, seems even now seared on the collective memory.
Lyn Macdonald has done a sterling job in tracking down the dwindling band of survivors, and her book is a fitting testament to their courage and heroism in the face of terrible suffering. Let us hope that we never have to go through what these men did.
on 2 February 2001
This is an excellent account of 1915, the year when gas was used for the first time, Gallipoli became infamous and time and again thousands of men died, on both sides, for little gain. The interleaving of first hand accounts, diary entries and historical commentary brings the horror and bravery of the men who fought and died to life. It leads on from where Macdonald's book '1914 The Dawn of Hope' ended and I expect the same standard from the MacDonald's other books that I have yet to read. This is not easy reading but I would recommend it to everyone.
on 22 February 1999
This book guides the reader through all aspects of the First World War during 1915. Threading togeather recollections of First World War veterans with background details to produce a factually acurate history without being clinicle.
The numerous quotes included from war veterans are quite amazing. Bleak, horrific, moving, inspiring and at times even funny. Some of the history inbetween can feal like heavy going though, but it is well balanced and would come recommended to any reader with an interest in the First World War.
on 13 August 2014
Amazing value for money. As usual with Lyn Macdonald, every word on every page has you completely gripped. She weaves together the first hand accounts of the men who were actually there, which transports you back 99 years to the horror of warfare in the trenches on the Western Front. Compelling read.