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4.7 out of 5 stars83
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on 22 July 2008
This is a great memoir, instantly ranking with book such as frank Richard's Old Soldiers Never Die as among the most evocative voices of the Great War as seen by the PBI. Lynch was an Australian, fighting with the 45th Battalion AIF from late 1916 to the end of the war. The centrepieces of this book are the descriptions of hand to hand trench fighting, which are raw and immediate. The most chilling description (apart from numerous descriptions of shellfire) are the images of the Somme battlefield in the freezing winter of 1916-1917, with casualties still frozen into the postures of brutal trench combat.

This is the Great War memoir of our time, if such as statement isn't something of a paradox. Lynch's Australian sensibility, his cheerful challenges to authority and the democratic flavour of Anzac `mateship' are more attuned to a 20th century sensibility than some of the more literary laments to the `futility' of the war in the 1920s and 1930s. (The attitudes to other races in the opening chapter are shocking but not surprising for a memoir of the time; their omission would have been a pointless and historically dishonest piece of editing).

A singular and powerfully important memoir of 1914-1918.
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on 3 May 2008
I bought this book as it sounded an interesting read. At first the way it is written takes a bit of getting used to, it isn't written after all by a professional story teller - the original text was penned by a soldier, Private Lynch, on returning from the Great War where, as an Australian infantryman, he fought in the front line and acted as a 'runner' for his CO. On his return in 1919, amazingly still alive, he wrote it all down in a number of exercise books as a method of making sense and coming to terms of the whole experience. The book is written as a diary and describes the every day life of a soldier on the front line. He gets wounded a couple of times and describes the deaths of others around him but, amazingly, he comes through scrape after scrape. The horror of his situation is all too real right down to the hand to hand trench bayonette fighting and the tragic losses on both sides. There are plenty of WW1 books written to clinically analyse the battles but Private Edward Lynch had the foresight to write down what he and others actually experienced. Some of the things he describes are vivid and horific but we all have a duty to read books like this, in my opinion, so we don't forget that we owe them our respect.
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on 22 May 2008
There are books about the Great War, and then there is Somme Mud.

The days of glorified war stories are over, and this book takes the reader on a gritty, totally from-the-heart account of every horrific day in the Western Front.

Whilst full of frightening moments, it also conveys the real sense of comradeship and frequent dark humour of those serving under conditions none of us can know today.

What struck me most about this book was the reminder that the prospect of being sniped, shelled (sometimes by your own side), gassed, or just drowned in flooded shell holes, was present every moment of just about every day. It's also a stark reminder of the appalling conditions men endured for several years.

A brilliant book that ranks amongst the best ever written in terms of actually comprehending - as far as we can today - what men went through, far from home.
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on 16 July 2008
I have read many books on the first world war and the western front in particular. Many of these have been excellent, such as the Lyn McDonald books, which give great insight into the horrors that the ordinary soldier had to endure. What sets this work apart from them is that it is a full acount of the war, written by an ordinary man in exceptional circumstances. It soon becomes clear that staying alive was just as difficult during spells of 'holding the line' as it was during a major battle. An incredible tale, honestly told with bravery and dignity. A must-read.
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on 18 February 2014
The most harrowing, brutally honest and mesmerizing book I have ever read in my life. I read a great deal of history and past favorites like Stalingrad or Berlin by Antony Beevor or The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajor which I found gripping really do pale a little by comparison to this. Perhaps not in the historically informative way Beevor presents things but as a first person perspective of the hideous violence which took place in the Great War or any conflict this cannot be surpassed.

There is a moment in the book where Lynch writes about going for a walk through trenches wrestled from the Germans a couple of weeks before and now behind the front line. He talks about rows of British corpses lying in straight lines, shoulder to shoulder. Each a little closer to the German trench as the first were wiped out, the second made it another 20 yards as the Germans reloaded, the third line making it 20 yards closer etc. Then he describes the scene of the hand to hand combat which took place by the position of the corpses. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Had Lynch not written about it, who would ever even know how these men died? We still do not know their names but at least we know it happened.

There is simply no possibility that I could do this book or it's author justice or even praise it highly enough but will say that this book is as enthralling as it is important.
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on 8 March 2009
This book may be a journey through the mud and blood of the battlefields of the Western Front, but it is done so in the company of a warm, kind hearted man.

`Nulla' (Lynch we presume) sees nobility in the bleakest of landscapes. He heaps praise on the `Fritz' machine gunners who manned their post to their last, he sees the officer who walks along the top of a trench during a bombardment not as an eccentric `toff' but as the embodiment of courage. It is his unwavering belief in his fellow man- even though he questions the insanity of war - that makes this book a surprisingly enjoyable read

The best I can say about it is this: I've read All Quiet on the Western Front and I've visited sad white headstone laden graveyards of the Somme and Ypres; but only after reading Somme Mud, do I think I'm beginning to understand what happened.
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on 30 November 2008
I was interested when I saw this book as my grandfather was at the Somme but would never speak of it. I had heard about it in history and seen a few television programs but I was interested to learn about it from the mind and voice of one who was there.

Once started the book is very hard to put down. My respect for my grandfather and those who went off to fight this war has grown tremendously.

A must read for those wishing to know about those unsung heroes who gave their all.
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on 29 January 2009
What a fantastic read this book turned out to be, you certainly shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Thinking it was going to be a dour & morbid account of life in the trenches, was probably the reason why i left this as the last of my xmas books to read. Infact, i have to say its one of the best i have read for many a year. The style of writing & general pace of the book wiil keep you rivetted to the very end.
I highly recommend this book, you won't be disappointed.
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on 9 May 2008
fantastic read,a must for anybody with an intrest in this period of history. A book thats once i started found hard to put down, gripping and fantastically detailed of the lives they lived fighting the first world war.
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on 22 May 2011
Every now and then one comes across an especially extraordinary book. Somme Mud, real diary of an Australian infantryman serving in the trenches in World War I, is one such book.

It's not a perfect book: some aspects of Lynch's time at war are skipped over, such as time spent recovering from wounds or when resting between campaigns. Whether this is down to Lynch, or the editor who knocked the diary into shape posthumously, I don't know. Overall, these don't detract from what is an excellent, moving and often harrowing account of a most war.

And harrowing it is: the descriptions of the relentless deaths and injuries are often graphic, though never indulgent. The sheer senselessness and, to a certain extent, gory tedium and monotony of the war bear down on the reader page after page. That men - some who were little more than boys - could cope with this terrible situation is nothing short of astonishing.

There are acts of heroism, moments of incredible luck and even some really quite funny situations. And of course there are accounts of violence, brutality and killing that turn the stomach - and, in the middle of it all, some genuinely moving acts of kindness, even towards the enemy.

I can totally understand many readers not having the stomach to read a book like this - but it deserves to be read, to keep alive the reality of a war that distinguishes itself in history by the sheer expendability of human life.
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