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Major and Mrs. Holt's Concise Guide to the Western Front - North (Holts Battlefield Guides) Paperback – 6 Jun 2002
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About the Author
Major and Mrs Holt need little introduction. Not only did they pioneer the concept of battlefield touring, building up the Company that still bears their name but they have written numerous books which include their unrivalled Leo Cooper guidebooks to the Somme, Ypres, Normandy and Gallipoli. Market Garden is the fifth in this hugely successful series. Other works include My Boy Jack and The Better 'Ole, their life of the world famous cartoonist Bairnsfather. They live at Sandwich, Kent.
Top customer reviews
The book does not set out to give the visitor a step-by-step "turn left here, turn right there" route around the battle sites, but instead provides clear maps of a given area, and goes on to describe the key locations, providing some splendid photographs of each. The visitor can easily construct their own itinerary from the riches shown.
The guide does not take us out into the fields and woods to get a feel of the ground, but focuses sharply on the lasting visible legacies - cemeteries, memorials, museums, bunkers, and so on. As such, the utility of the book for the seasoned battlefield tourist would probably be rather limited, but for the fact that it covers some of the lesser known battlefields of northern France and Flanders. Not too many go beyond Ypres and the Somme; this book takes us into Loos, Aubers, Vimy Ridge, Arras and other places of memory. For the first-timer, I can think of no better presentation of the main sites.
There are some surprises. The 1915 battlefields of Artois - hugely important for the French army - receive very little coverage, for example. But this is balanced by an excellent section of the little understood area of the River Yser, the calvary of the Balgian army for so long during the war.
The list of sites mentioned is bang up to date, with recent discoveries and developments being covered. Inevitably such a work is out of date almost as soon as published, but I have no doubt that things will be kept fresh with sucessive reprints, as this book is bound to become a standard work on the subject.
The maps, photographs and text are models of clarity, and I could find no obvious errors or omissions of historical fact. Then again, with the Holt's having been at the forefront of commercialising battlefield tourism for many years, I would have been surprised had I found any.
The book is nicely produced, and at £14.99 (cover price) respresents good value. No doubt that after a couple of good trips it would become grubby and dog-eared, but my copy was pretty robust and unlikely to fall to bits on the windswept Flanders Plain.
Overall, a good buy for armchair tourists, first timers and tour veterans alike.
Each splendid volume includes a great deal of fascinating information, where historical fact is coupled with informed opinion . Full colour photographs, excellent maps and diagrams together with details of war cemeteries and memorials and useful tourist information (how to get there, where to stay and places to eat etc.) is included. With the easy to follow battlefield tour itineraries also featured, the reader is guided around the battlefields, through the countryside as well as villages, towns and cities, that are linked with battles and major actions of either the Great or Second World Wars.
This latest publication and its companion volume "The Western Front - South", are valuable additions to the existing titles in the series, which includes Ypres, The Somme, Gallipoli, Normandy Landings and Operation Market Garden. Much up to date information has been added, especially up dated maps together with information on recent developments, where new sites of historical significance have been found.
For the family history researcher, battlefield tourist, military historian, battlefield guide, student of military history or armchair enthusiast, this book certainly represents excellent value for money!
highly recommend reading before seeing the ground and again afterwards!
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