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4.7 out of 5 stars29
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 May 2000
This is an excellant contribution to the Somme books as published by Pen and Sword. Covers some well-known areas, and other areas which have been badly neglected such as Gommecourt and Flers where tanks were used for the first time. What is good about this edition are the well mapped routes and suggestions for the first time visitor. Good photos too, particularly of the devastation the battle caused. Good all round account of what was perhaps the greatest battle of World War One.
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on 20 May 2005
I have used this book on a number of recce tours to the Somme. When asked, by battlefield visitors, how best to prepare themselves to get the best from their time on the battlefields, I commend Holts' books and maps as a 'get you in pack'. For those who need greater detail and who wish to walk as well as drive, then I commend the Battleground Europe series. Of this series, this book and its companion volume "Walking the Salient" remain my favourites. They're well-researched, packed with quotations and photographs from primary sources, and provide clearly written, easy-to-follow route descriptions and sketch maps. Paul Reed has invested much of himself in becoming one of the current experts and enthusiasts on WWI matters; and he's always happy to share his knowledge and to encourage others through his excellent website.
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2003
I first purchased this book before visiting the Somme battlefields and found the content a bit dry and also expected more of a background to the battles. If you are looking for detailed information about the battle of the Somme there are numerous books out there that cover the subject in great detail. I highly recommend reading one before visiting the area, particularly Martin Middlebrook’s “The first day on the Somme”, which is excellent.
However, it is not the intention of this book to be a detailed history of the battle of the Somme. Instead it is a well structured walking guide that provides information to the reader regarding particular areas that are of historic importance and gives some first hand accounts from the people who were there. The book contains accurate maps drawn by the author and also gives approximate times as to how long each walk takes which is extremely useful. There are also some excellent photographs of the places and individuals that are described in the text which, when standing on the actual ground, lends a whole new sense of reality to the events that took place there.
When I read this book now it transports me back to the places that I have visited and it will certainly accompany me when I visit this area again.
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on 9 July 2012
We spent five days (4 nights staying in Peronne) visiting the Somme battlefields, and made extensive use of the new second(2011)edition of this book.

Whilst the Holt's Guide to the Somme proved more useful in planning our days out in advance, Paul Reed's book proved excellent to have with us once we were actually on the spot. We didn't do any of his walks in their entirity, but found ourselves doing portions of many of them, and he was particularly useful in indicating pathways through fields which can be walked, and cemeteries which were worth a detour.

I would have liked better maps, but the Battleground Europe series all seem to be weak on maps. But there again the much-vaunted Holt's map of the Somme proves to be poor as well - not nearly as useful as you think it is going to be, with complicated keys which have one constantly turning the map over to look on the reverse for the meanings, and it has simply loads of minor inaccuracies as to roads and paths.

Paul Reed clearly has a deep interest and knowledge of the areas concerned, and if you are going battlefield touring on the Somme then this book will greatly enhance your visit.
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on 12 July 2004
This is indeed an excellent walking guide. Tried it last weekend and had no trouble at all finding my way. What it does miss however is an overall map of the area (it does provide a map per walk). A map showing the area around you could really help in finding the towns and villages mentioned in the text.
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on 10 June 2016
The mere fact that in this throwaway, low-attention span age, this book has already been re-printed twice since 2011, tells you something about its merits even before you are past the title page.

Paul Reed is an authoritative and respected military historian, passionate enough about the Somme to have made his home there, and knowledgeable enough about the area to have written this superb guide. I get the feeling that he has probably tramped through the 16 walks in this book many, many times and I would think that this guide, handy enough to stuff into a waxed Barbour, could be as essential as walking boots, a compass and a hat.

Best of all, for me, is the fact that these walks are all circular. Park your car at Authuille Military cemetery perhaps, take in Blighty Valley cemetery, Lonsdale Cemetery, Lutyens's marvellous memorial to the missing, and then back to Authuille by way of Connaught Cemetery, Mill Road Cemetery and Ulster Tower. Indeed I'm quite taken by this particular walk and may well put this to the test when I'm in France in a few weeks' time.

Each walk describes the area as it is now, and as it was during the First World War, and there is a handy section at the end of each walk which suggests further reading. Thus, if I had a Kindle, I would probably also take Frank Coppard, F PCrozier, Charles Douie and others with me on the walk. I don't though, and the books are too heavy to carry. (Note to Father Christmas, please leave Kindle this year).
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on 17 March 2013
Better than earlier edtion. Walk much clearer, than Walking Arras, will comment further after visit in May. Nothing more to say at moment
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on 5 August 2013
The Somme is a beautiful area to walk although sombre in its memories. The walks are well written up, perfect in direction and timing, varying from the short to the strenuous. In each case, the personal insights from the book add an extra dimension to the walk, the tragedies as well as the heroic moments. It is so well written and the walks take you across country along the battle lines. To walk through Trone wood and view the front line across the fields, to find the graves and memorials with accounts of individuals and their exploits made the walks mesmerising and the brought to life the nightmares faced by the soldiers.
This book is a must if you intend visiting the Somme.
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on 27 March 2016
Very good reading and learning book for people and good preparation for visiting the Somme.
My wife and I visited the Somme this year with Ledger and our brilliant guide was Paul Reed this was our first trip to the battlefields and my wife was able to visit where here Grandfather and Great uncles served there country in the First World War Also with information from Paul Reed She found where her Great Uncles were killed in action.
Dennis/Jane Rankine
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on 13 March 2014
A region of France which I hope to do more than drive through some day and Paul R has done a good job in this guide book.
Easy to read, good clear layout, sets the scene well and gives the reader a concise uncomplicated yet detailed account of the battle and what to do , what to see and how to get there.
I have used Paul's D-Day guide book and found it useful , this book presents in the same way.
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