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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 May 2008
I bought this book as it sounded an interesting read. At first the way it is written takes a bit of getting used to, it isn't written after all by a professional story teller - the original text was penned by a soldier, Private Lynch, on returning from the Great War where, as an Australian infantryman, he fought in the front line and acted as a 'runner' for his CO. On his return in 1919, amazingly still alive, he wrote it all down in a number of exercise books as a method of making sense and coming to terms of the whole experience. The book is written as a diary and describes the every day life of a soldier on the front line. He gets wounded a couple of times and describes the deaths of others around him but, amazingly, he comes through scrape after scrape. The horror of his situation is all too real right down to the hand to hand trench bayonette fighting and the tragic losses on both sides. There are plenty of WW1 books written to clinically analyse the battles but Private Edward Lynch had the foresight to write down what he and others actually experienced. Some of the things he describes are vivid and horific but we all have a duty to read books like this, in my opinion, so we don't forget that we owe them our respect.
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on 22 July 2008
This is a great memoir, instantly ranking with book such as frank Richard's Old Soldiers Never Die as among the most evocative voices of the Great War as seen by the PBI. Lynch was an Australian, fighting with the 45th Battalion AIF from late 1916 to the end of the war. The centrepieces of this book are the descriptions of hand to hand trench fighting, which are raw and immediate. The most chilling description (apart from numerous descriptions of shellfire) are the images of the Somme battlefield in the freezing winter of 1916-1917, with casualties still frozen into the postures of brutal trench combat.

This is the Great War memoir of our time, if such as statement isn't something of a paradox. Lynch's Australian sensibility, his cheerful challenges to authority and the democratic flavour of Anzac `mateship' are more attuned to a 20th century sensibility than some of the more literary laments to the `futility' of the war in the 1920s and 1930s. (The attitudes to other races in the opening chapter are shocking but not surprising for a memoir of the time; their omission would have been a pointless and historically dishonest piece of editing).

A singular and powerfully important memoir of 1914-1918.
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on 22 May 2008
There are books about the Great War, and then there is Somme Mud.

The days of glorified war stories are over, and this book takes the reader on a gritty, totally from-the-heart account of every horrific day in the Western Front.

Whilst full of frightening moments, it also conveys the real sense of comradeship and frequent dark humour of those serving under conditions none of us can know today.

What struck me most about this book was the reminder that the prospect of being sniped, shelled (sometimes by your own side), gassed, or just drowned in flooded shell holes, was present every moment of just about every day. It's also a stark reminder of the appalling conditions men endured for several years.

A brilliant book that ranks amongst the best ever written in terms of actually comprehending - as far as we can today - what men went through, far from home.
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on 16 July 2008
I have read many books on the first world war and the western front in particular. Many of these have been excellent, such as the Lyn McDonald books, which give great insight into the horrors that the ordinary soldier had to endure. What sets this work apart from them is that it is a full acount of the war, written by an ordinary man in exceptional circumstances. It soon becomes clear that staying alive was just as difficult during spells of 'holding the line' as it was during a major battle. An incredible tale, honestly told with bravery and dignity. A must-read.
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on 9 May 2008
fantastic read,a must for anybody with an intrest in this period of history. A book thats once i started found hard to put down, gripping and fantastically detailed of the lives they lived fighting the first world war.
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on 18 February 2014
The most harrowing, brutally honest and mesmerizing book I have ever read in my life. I read a great deal of history and past favorites like Stalingrad or Berlin by Antony Beevor or The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajor which I found gripping really do pale a little by comparison to this. Perhaps not in the historically informative way Beevor presents things but as a first person perspective of the hideous violence which took place in the Great War or any conflict this cannot be surpassed.

There is a moment in the book where Lynch writes about going for a walk through trenches wrestled from the Germans a couple of weeks before and now behind the front line. He talks about rows of British corpses lying in straight lines, shoulder to shoulder. Each a little closer to the German trench as the first were wiped out, the second made it another 20 yards as the Germans reloaded, the third line making it 20 yards closer etc. Then he describes the scene of the hand to hand combat which took place by the position of the corpses. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Had Lynch not written about it, who would ever even know how these men died? We still do not know their names but at least we know it happened.

There is simply no possibility that I could do this book or it's author justice or even praise it highly enough but will say that this book is as enthralling as it is important.
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on 30 November 2008
I was interested when I saw this book as my grandfather was at the Somme but would never speak of it. I had heard about it in history and seen a few television programs but I was interested to learn about it from the mind and voice of one who was there.

Once started the book is very hard to put down. My respect for my grandfather and those who went off to fight this war has grown tremendously.

A must read for those wishing to know about those unsung heroes who gave their all.
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on 29 January 2009
What a fantastic read this book turned out to be, you certainly shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Thinking it was going to be a dour & morbid account of life in the trenches, was probably the reason why i left this as the last of my xmas books to read. Infact, i have to say its one of the best i have read for many a year. The style of writing & general pace of the book wiil keep you rivetted to the very end.
I highly recommend this book, you won't be disappointed.
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on 8 March 2009
This book may be a journey through the mud and blood of the battlefields of the Western Front, but it is done so in the company of a warm, kind hearted man.

`Nulla' (Lynch we presume) sees nobility in the bleakest of landscapes. He heaps praise on the `Fritz' machine gunners who manned their post to their last, he sees the officer who walks along the top of a trench during a bombardment not as an eccentric `toff' but as the embodiment of courage. It is his unwavering belief in his fellow man- even though he questions the insanity of war - that makes this book a surprisingly enjoyable read

The best I can say about it is this: I've read All Quiet on the Western Front and I've visited sad white headstone laden graveyards of the Somme and Ypres; but only after reading Somme Mud, do I think I'm beginning to understand what happened.
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on 19 November 2008
wait on whilst the dead men are buried. A shallow grave marked by a rifle stuck up in the mud is all that can be done. It gives some satisfaction to do that, although we are well aware the men so buried will be thrown up and reburied by shellfire time after time until the fighting shifts on from here. Some day they may have real graves. What a lot to look forward to! It's as well their people can't fully realize what finding a soldier's grave really means.

If there is one book that everyone should read on warfare, or just a book that should be read, this is it. Edward Lynch left Australia on 22nd August 1916 as a young man of 18 volunteering to serve on the Western Front. He returned to his homeland in 1919, lived through three of the most turbulent years of modern history.

In 1921 he started to write of his experiences, twenty one school exercise books full. The initial idea was to publish the story, but due to circumstances at the time this never happened. After his death the volumes resurfaced when Edward's grandson Mike Lynch passed the volumes to the editor Will Davies.

The result is a story that stands with any of the so called `classics' of the Great War and is superior to most. The story is that of a young private `Nulla' and his experience of some of the fiercest fighting in the area of the Somme from late 1916 through to 1918.

The descriptions of actions including the firing of the mines on the Messines Ridge, tanks and the start of air re-supply. Interspersed are the personal asides, food contaminated with gas, the mod swings that effected individuals, the flashes of humour, including the description of Janker's for going AWOL, cleaning the trace chains of artillery harness, `We spent a whole day cleaning trace chains and polishing each link with spit sand and blasphemy'.

Technically the book is very accurate, the story can be followed on maps, trench maps and panoramas, giving a wider understanding of small actions that took place during the period. The book draws few if any conclusions as to the rights and wrongs of the conflict, it praises and castigates offices, men and the enemy as the situation demands.

This book is something special; Edward Lynch deserves a place amongst the revered author's of the Great War, an accolade he deserved but never got.
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