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The German Army at Passchendaele,
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This review is from: The German Army at Passchendaele (Hardcover)
For generations, the story of the Flanders fighting in the summer and autumn of 1917 has been the province of "anglocentric" historians. Jack Sheldon has redressed the balance, and provided us with a meticulously researched and superbly written chronicle of the Third Ypres Campaign, as experienced by German soldiers. Any suggestion that German sources are too scarce to allow for such an assessment are refuted by this superb book. Here we can appreciate how the ordeal of Flanders impinged on the warriors of the Fatherland, from the man in the shellhole to the reflections of The Crown Prince Rupprecht. The narrative is in the best chronological tradition, from the dramatic British success at Messines to the dismal culmination at Passchendaele. This was a war of material, in which the German soldiers and high command had to face an overwhelming British preponderance in a prolonged and intense artillery battle. As well as the ordeal of enduring relentless shellfire, the German troops engaged British and Commonwealth soldiers in vicious close quarters fighting, and, like their foes, lived and died in unspeakable conditions, all the while exhibiting amazing steadfastness. This is a history that engages our emotions as well as our intellect. The style of writing is first rate, and the maps provide timely and clear understanding of the significance of location in this dreadful struggle. Let's hope that in the years ahead, as we approach the centennial of the Great War, we might enjoy more such writing from Jack Sheldon. It is rare to see such a high standard of scholarship presented in such a readable and captivating manner.
Phil Andrade, a member of the Western Front Association