Lyn Macdonald is in my limited opinion the best chronicler of WW1 amongst the numerous pretenders. Her research and attention to detail is phenomenal, but this alone would not be enough if the end product was dry and academic. It isn't, she writes in a compelling three dimensional style that allows you to absorb the factual history and engage with the personalities of the soldiers lives she recounts. Any of Lyn Macdonald's books is a guaranteed gem, and this one is no exception.
Unfortunately I purchased this book prior to reading the preceding works.However,it prompted me to buy all the previous Lyn Macdonald books on the Great War.I have never experienced war,thank God,but these books have brought the horror and tragedy very close to home.Lyn has an unnerring eye for detail and her respect for both the men and women who lived and died through this most awful of wars is plain to see.This book,and the previous ones in the series are absolutely essential reads and should be a mainstay of any schools curriculam.....to get the point across not just about the futility of war but also about the everyday heroism of the ordinary person and the great sacrifices that were made to ensure that we live the way we do today.We have a huge debt to pay and sometimes we forget it.
MacDonald has again produced a brilliant book detailing the huge German push in the Spring of 1918. As with her previous books MacDonald gives voice to the veterans of the battles and lets their words describe the events and their part in it. It is as harrowing a story as you will ever read but again the immense bravery and courage of the 'common soldier' shines through. The men who fought and died clearly believed in the cause for which they were ready to lay down their lives, something that the modern selfish generation will have a great deal of trouble believing or understanding. MacDonald's books are a tremendous tribute and testament to the generation of young men and women who fought in the Great War. MacDonald has ensured that 'We Shall Never Forget'.
Lyn Macdonald has an excellent grasp of early 20th century history, a period that determined the course of Europe and the free world. You don't need film footage to picture the horrow of warfare when the descriptive the author uses put's you right there with the fighting men, on both sides. This book captures the strategy and the bloody reality of making it happen The bold attempt by the Germans to break the deadlock, the conviction of both sides that they were right. The mutual respect the soldiers had for each other, the minute by minute need to survive and at the same time kill or be killed reality of the butchery all around them. The soldiers story emerges with dignity, the realisation that both sets of combatants were mere porns in the hands of the politicians. Read the book, going to bed is easy, going to sleep is much more difficult. "To the Last Man" will make sure of that.
As per Macdonalds previous Great War books, this is superb. Again, it is the detailed survivors accounts that leaves the greatest impression. This time, much of the perspective come from the German side which throws a very different light on commonly held understanding. In the end, we see two sides, both convinced that God was on their side, killing each other until the last man. Each side eventually appears to be as humaine (or not) as the other. I suggest reading the whole series in chronological order.
With her painstaking review of written and oral evidence, Lyn Madcdonald has succeed in bringing home the experience of war in the early part of the 20th Century, and making it live for those fortunate enough never to have been tested by the call to arms.By seeing the western front through the eyes of the ordinary soldier, it puts into perspective the trials and tribulations of the 21st Century. As the last few Great War veterans finally pass away, such a record reminds us of the sacrifices of previous generations, and shows us that the soldiers of the Great War were not simply lambs led to the slaughter, but brave individuals who believed in the cause for which they were fighting. Might I suggest that Lyn Macdonald has honoured the British Tommy of 1914-1918 in much the same way as Stephen Ambrose has done with his painstaking interviews with the veterans of D-Day and its aftermath.
This is a stunning book, beautifully presented, clear, concise and a real page turner. This is a must for anyone studying how the Great War panned out and very near defat the British Army actually came.