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Count me in
on 3 February 2002
To add to the other reviews (and it *is* a triumph of research, and tells you pretty much all you need to know about the campaign), one thing puzzled me. The book doesn't seem to cover the first day of the battle, the day which most people think of when they think of the Somme. One moment, the troops are about to leap over the trenches - and then we're at the next chapter, and we've skipped several hours into the future.
I assume Ms MacDonald is trying to replicate the 'fog of war' that existed at the time - nobody in charge knew what had happened until several days later, and the people at home had to wait for months - but it's unsatisfying, somehow.
Still, it's a superb book, and you can't fault the sheer hard work MacDonald has put into it - not only did she interview many of the surviving British soldiers (this was back in 1983, so there were more of them), she actually visited the battlefield.
One other flaw, though, is that whilst she interviewed lots of British people, we don't learn much about the Germans. Given that they took just as many casualties in the battle as us, what must it have been like for them, sitting in their trenches, under a towering artillery bombardment, not knowing what was coming next? We don't find out, which is a shame.