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Walking the Somme (Battleground Europe) Paperback – 19 May 2011
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About the Author
Paul Reed is a leading military historian, specializing in the two world wars. He has been visiting European battlefields for more than thirty years, and lived on the Somme for over a decade. He has worked as a researcher and battlefield guide, and is the author of several books on the Great War. He also regularly contributes to television programmes, such as Timewatch, Meet the Ancestors and Who Do You Think You Are? and was historical consultant to BBC1's My Family At War.
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Top customer reviews
However, it is not the intention of this book to be a detailed history of the battle of the Somme. Instead it is a well structured walking guide that provides information to the reader regarding particular areas that are of historic importance and gives some first hand accounts from the people who were there. The book contains accurate maps drawn by the author and also gives approximate times as to how long each walk takes which is extremely useful. There are also some excellent photographs of the places and individuals that are described in the text which, when standing on the actual ground, lends a whole new sense of reality to the events that took place there.
When I read this book now it transports me back to the places that I have visited and it will certainly accompany me when I visit this area again.
Whilst the Holt's Guide to the Somme proved more useful in planning our days out in advance, Paul Reed's book proved excellent to have with us once we were actually on the spot. We didn't do any of his walks in their entirity, but found ourselves doing portions of many of them, and he was particularly useful in indicating pathways through fields which can be walked, and cemeteries which were worth a detour.
I would have liked better maps, but the Battleground Europe series all seem to be weak on maps. But there again the much-vaunted Holt's map of the Somme proves to be poor as well - not nearly as useful as you think it is going to be, with complicated keys which have one constantly turning the map over to look on the reverse for the meanings, and it has simply loads of minor inaccuracies as to roads and paths.
Paul Reed clearly has a deep interest and knowledge of the areas concerned, and if you are going battlefield touring on the Somme then this book will greatly enhance your visit.
Paul Reed is an authoritative and respected military historian, passionate enough about the Somme to have made his home there, and knowledgeable enough about the area to have written this superb guide. I get the feeling that he has probably tramped through the 16 walks in this book many, many times and I would think that this guide, handy enough to stuff into a waxed Barbour, could be as essential as walking boots, a compass and a hat.
Best of all, for me, is the fact that these walks are all circular. Park your car at Authuille Military cemetery perhaps, take in Blighty Valley cemetery, Lonsdale Cemetery, Lutyens's marvellous memorial to the missing, and then back to Authuille by way of Connaught Cemetery, Mill Road Cemetery and Ulster Tower. Indeed I'm quite taken by this particular walk and may well put this to the test when I'm in France in a few weeks' time.
Each walk describes the area as it is now, and as it was during the First World War, and there is a handy section at the end of each walk which suggests further reading. Thus, if I had a Kindle, I would probably also take Frank Coppard, F PCrozier, Charles Douie and others with me on the walk. I don't though, and the books are too heavy to carry. (Note to Father Christmas, please leave Kindle this year).
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My wife and I visited the Somme this year with Ledger and our brilliant guide was...Read more
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