Top positive review
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A good Osprey Campaign title describing an important battle
on 7 February 2008
Writing on WWI battles on the Western Front is not easy - although totally horrible for their participants, they make usually for a rather dull read (like for ex. "Chateau Thierry & Belleau Wood 1918", another Osprey Campaign title). Soldiers go out of their positions, get scythed by machine guns and artillery and capture a small parcel of positions, which they mostly lose to counter attacks. Period.
Now, in this battle there was one new element - a massive use of tanks, which made this battle different, but not totally different from others. So this is a testimony to the performance of Alexander Turner, that he managed to make a quite interesting book, rather easy to read and explaining clearly and in good order the events. Even more impressive - he did it for the second time, after an also very interesting "Vimy Ridge 1917".
I particularly well aprreciated the explanation of the tactics of tank attacks against trenches in 1917 - it was the first comprehensive tank tactics in the history and it is a really interesting read. Black and white illustrations are very good and maps are clear and precise. There are three colour plates (thank you Osprey!) made by Peter Dennis, and they are VERY good!
The first one, which is the less precise, shows the attack of the German trenches by British tanks and it illustrates very well the tactics. It also gives a good idea of the concentration of armour used to pierce German lines in this battle!
Second plate illustrates well the difficulty of anti tank fighting for German infantry - but also the terrible danger in which would find themselves tanks isolated from their own infantry and other vehicles.
Finally the third plate shows the counter-attack by German storm-troopers and a trench fight.
The fight at Cambrai saw a massive participation of regular infantry, storm troopers, armour, field and heavy artillery, cavalry and aviation (fighters and bombers) in a small parcel of front, all in the same time. It was a highly complex and terrifying battle and this book tells the story really well. If Osprey can keep the same level of quality for its incoming "Amiens 1918" it could be a masterpiece...