- Paperback: 207 pages
- Publisher: Grub Street; 1st edition (1 Aug. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1904010202
- ISBN-13: 978-1904010203
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20 cm
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
To the Last Ridge: The World War One Experiences of W.H. Downing Paperback – 1 Aug 2002
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Top customer reviews
One of the selling points of this book is the phraseology and the witty prose that conjures up excellent images of a war torn country seen through the eyes of someone who travelled so far to see it. What really shines through is Downing's stoical appectance that it was his duty to be there, and despite the lice, mud and carnage there is a firm believe that he was doing what was right. The style of writing does take a while to get used to, being written in the vocabulary of the age, but this does not detract from the abject pity that one feels when reading this book.
Downing describes sights and sounds and smells in a way that enables the reader to visualise the awful scenes that the author witnessed day after day.
This is a book that deserves to be up there with the classics such as "With a Machine Gun to Cambrai", "Old soldiers never die" and "Goodbye to all that."
The only way to understand just how good this book really is, is to buy and copy and read it. 10 out of 10!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
First published in 1920, this book seems to be held out as the outstanding example of the WW1 experience of an Australian soldier. `The Australian' calls it `a masterpiece among the chronicles of war' and it certainly has strengths in the area of realism but it has the notable downfall in that the author rarely uses the personal pronoun `I' almost always referring to events from the point of view of his company or battalion. Indeed it's often unclear as to whether he witnessed or participated in particular incidents. He never specifically writes about shooting his rifle and he fails to say anything about being awarded the Military Cross. There is nothing about training and others are only referred to by nickname. I found it hard to identify with the participants. He is slightly more forthcoming about highjinks out of the line but overall it was a bit too impersonal to really engage me.
At times Downing tends to be a little bit hyperbolic but generally his writing style is fine. His descriptions are quite vivid and he is particularly blunt about injuries. Downing certainly had the experiences but here he has written in a collective way rather than of his own deeds. So as a memoir I feel it falls short. Still, there is much of value regarding the Australian experience on the Western Front.
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