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Ypres As It Really Was.,
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This review is from: Passchendaele (Hardcover)
Despite the obvious allure and importance of the panoramic images in this book, it is the text, not the pictures, that bring Ypres alive. The author cleverly intertwines the images with a detailed but rarely dull account of the development of this front. A particularly poignant and effective element is the liberal inclusion of letters from ordinary soldiers in the field. Many of these are very powerful, often sad, and sometimes surprisingly positive in the light of overwhelming adversity. An incredible sense of politeness, consideration for those at home, and stoicism is present in those letters, despite the littering of corpses around those fighting.
My grandfather fought here, and his brother was shot right next to him in a dash across no-man's land. I felt I had a very real, and much more complete impression of what it felt like to be stuck in those trenches for months and years on end. A week commonly saw over 3 million shells thrown by the British side alone, and one can only stand in awe at the psychological tenacity of the soldiers. Because the soldiers' letters actually relate to the day being described in the story of the battles, you don't have to make it up - they tell you what was going through their minds that very day. The text also refreshingly looks at the soldiers as feeling humans, rather than just 'resources' of a battle as has been common in the glorify-war days past.
So, great images, but the text is even better. A real must-have.