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on 20 March 2014
In as much as can be done a hundred years after the event when all the active participants are long gone and we have only official records, diaries and other such material to work with, this book does offer a dispassionate look at the events of mid to late 1917 in the Ypres Salient. It puts them into the context of a four year struggle for supremacy on the Western Front and does not try to offer too much in the way of judgement of events or decisions made by those in command at the time.
Many shelves have been filled with books on this subject which offer credence to the old saying that "hindsight is a wonderful gift" but this one allows the reader to make their own judgement and is not simply another "hatchet job" on the Army Commanders and tactics of the time. A very good read.
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on 9 January 2014
Lots of facts, of course, but with enough background information (e.g. quotes from soldiers) to give grim flesh to the facts. Includes interesting photographs, and also some maps that were actually used in the campaign - unfortunately the maps are difficult to read even in zoom on an HD Kindle.

For me, the final chapter ('The Context' of the battles) is crucially important: this is a balanced summary covering the sometimes limited thinking behind the campaigns. Recommended. Good value at 99p.
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on 1 April 2014
Another compelling Battle for a few yards of muddy land to the cost of thousands of lives on both sides. Without those who were injured or shell shocked. It mentions that one of the Generals visited the battle field and wept, and said we sent our troops to fight in this. We should all weep too.
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on 9 November 2014
The book is very good BUT useless on a kindle as none of the maps are legible and the photographs are impossible to see. I shall never again buy a non fiction book on kindle. In fact it has crossed my mind to demand a refund (aginst the printed version) as the kindle version is non fit for purpose.
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on 9 April 2014
An extremely informative book. Well written in a style that was easy to follow. Very helpful to any student of the 1st World War.
A good selection of maps to assist
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on 8 December 2014
I first chose this book out of interest in the Paschendale battles

I soon realized I had chosen a beautifully written factual masterpiece

One of the best volumes of WW1 history it has been my pleasure to read
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on 27 May 2015
Having read a lot of accounts of the war as a whole and two biographies of Douglas Haig, I found this detailed account and carefully reasoned summation of the battle's place in the overall context absorbing. The sometimes horrific detail gleaned from individual accounts is quite shattering at times. I particularly liked the potted biographies towards the end. Some authors include these as various personalities appear, weighing down the narrative. As the first detailed account of one battle I have read, it wets the appetite for more. Recommended for those who are fairly knowledgeable on the overall war but seek more detail.
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The Battle of Passchendaele is popularly associated with the misery endured by the British Army in the Great War.

This book offers a review of the Third Battle of Ypres that highlights the `bite and hold' policy that succeeded as its culmination, in securing the Passchendaele Ridge in November 1917.

By detailing specific battle actions on key dates it follows the tried and tested `day by day' method and so helps keep the narrative in context.

Some interesting original evidence is presented particularly with regard to the effective use of tanks in what were most unpromising conditions. From this, the use of tanks in conditions that were contradictory to the three criteria laid down by Colonel Ernest Swinton for the effective use of tanks (suitable ground, employment en masse and surprise) asks questions of the battle plan and its continued talent for optimism over experience: something at odds with the practical evolution and effectiveness of the British Army since 1915 under equally trying conditions.

It rightly emphasises the impact of rain on the execution of the attacks on the Ypres Ridges and the misfortune of rainstorms coinciding with renewed attacks with almost Faustian design. It also offers some thought provoking points regarding the extent to which the British Generals were forced to accept the conditions in order to maintain the wider strategic aim of the battle.

Valuable insight is given into the pressures faced by the Germans in attempting to repulse the attacks, and of the rotation of Divisions into the battle. That the normally self assured Ludendorff was compelled to change German defensive tactics to try (as it turned out unsuccessfully) to defeat the British attacks, gives some balance to the narrative, although more German primary sources would have been useful to the student seeking more detail. However this small criticism is applicable to many battle chronicles and does not detract from the narrative.

This is a readable book that will assist the general reader to understand the tactics, timescale and determination of the British command and soldiers, to achieve the capture of the Ypres Ridges.

Mike McCarthy

Editor "The Battle Guide"

Guild of Battlefield Guides
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on 16 January 2015
This book is heavy going unless you are an historian. All the facts and figures are there but it is more of a text book than one you just sit and read. To make sense of the detail you need to be familiar with army units (companies, battalions, brigades, divisions, corps) and it helps to have maps at hand. For anyone who wants to know about the grim battle this is the one to read.
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on 13 October 2014
In depth book about the life in the trenches. It is a shame that the various maps and photographs cannot go enlarged for clarity. Highly recommended.
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