65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
A superb history book,
This review is from: Passchendaele (Hardcover)
I have a large collection of WWI books, including Peter Barton's previous two volumes that looked at panoramas of the Somme and panoramas of the Western Front. I was therefore surprised to find that this is not only is the best book of the series so far, but by far the best WWI book I have ever bought.
The book concentrates on the third battle of Ypres, commonly known as the battle of Passchendaele, which was fought in the summer and autumn of 1917. It has become a by-word for mud, death and suffering and is a highly emotive subject even today.
Although the book mainly looks at the third battle of Ypres, room is given to the first and second battles, giving the reader a feeling for how the later conflict developed. Peter Barton is also very even-handed in his approach, challenging the myths that have grown up around Passchendaele and putting the battle into a contemporary context.
However, it is in the maps, photographs and illustrations that this book excels. I was amazed by some of the aerial shots taken during the battle, which show a cratered, lunar landscape littered with the living and dead alike. Two pictures stand out for me. On page 264 the aerial shot of a lone British tank trekking across a "crater field" is haunting. This is matched by the horror of the photograph entitled "English Field of Death" on page 437. This German aerial photograph shows a muddy, blasted landscape typical of the latter stages of the battle. On closer inspection you become aware of tiny figures lying scattered around - all victims of this terrible conflict. In addition to the many photographs that have never been published before, the maps included show the objectives that the much maligned generals sought to achieve, whilst the "trench photographs" give an ordinary soldier's view of the battle.
I cannot rate this book highly enough. If you are at all interested in WWI you must add it to your collection.