Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Well researched but confusing
on 14 January 2015
The first thing to say about this book is that the work involved must have been tremendous. I applaud the author in that respect and would never denigrate the effort it must have taken to draw it together. The second thing to say is that it is just about the only available serious attempt to cover the battle for the wood. On both counts, the work is valuable.
But what might first be seen as an advantage (the account is gripping and reads like a novel) is perhaps its downfall for any serious student of the events at High Wood in 1916. The story of High Wood is extraordinarily complex, yet in this work anecdotes and personal stories are intermingled to such a degree that one loses the thread and it becomes extremely difficult to cut through this complexity and determine who attacked and on which date. The author also interchangeably refers to Divisions, Corps and battalions, sometimes mentioning their commanders without referring to the units they commanded, and sometimes referring to units without mention of who commanded them. It is impossible to piece together which Divisions belonged to which Corps, Which Brigades to which Divisions, and which Battalions to which Brigades (in this respect, an appendix illustrating the order of battle and who commanded who would have been invaluable). The result is a narrative that becomes extremely difficult to piece together in chronological order; a bit of a muddle really!.
Buy it by all means, if you are a general reader wanting a gripping account of this tragic historic event. But if you are a serious student of the battle, be prepared to read and re-read it many times over if you wish to understand who the attackers and their commanders were, and on which dates the attacks were made. In my humble view it would benefit from a major edit, retaining all the fascinating facts and anecdotes (which must have taken many painstaking hours to research) yet re-organised into more logical chunks which guide the reader chronologically through this most complex battle.
In summary: a valuable and well researched page turner, yet muddled