The Battle of Amiens was the surprise attack by the Allies against a weakly held sector of the German front line. Such attacks had been tried many times before, and normally with limited success. Artillery and machine gun fire from multiple defence lines quickly stopped any advance by the attackers, whom invariably suffered horrendous losses. Amiens went differently. To the surprise of the allied supreme commanders, their forces broke clean through the German lines and found themselves on pristine soil behind. Although the cavalry was ready to be sent in to exploit the break-through (as it had been on every previous occasion), it turned out to be of little use. Men on horses are too easy targets for any odd machine gun out there. In the end the offensive petered out. Losses on both sides had been high, but what the allies did not initially realise was the profound impact on the morale of the German supreme command, which basically concluded that the war was lost. And so it was, 3 months later. The book by McWilliams and Steel is well written. The secret preparations on the allied side and the tension before the battle are lucidly described. After many pages of this, the reader would like to learn about the German side, and the authors quickly comply with a short and sharp portrait of the German nation, its army and leaders. Then the battle commences and we are given (maybe too) minute descriptions of the actions of each and every unit involved. The Canadians and Australians fought with skill and tenacity, while the British and not the least the French soldiers proved to be much more lukewarm, which is no wonder after 4 years of relentless slaughter. The book contains a number of personal reminiscences of the participants, and these are hugely interesting, and the reader would like to have more. The book ends with a conclusion, which well summarizes the impact of the battle and the further perspectives. The illustrations are a set of black and white photos, in reasonable quality (in the paperback edition) and some maps which have been copied from different older books. The value of these maps is limited, it is difficult some times to find the places mentioned in the text, and maybe the editors should have commissioned a fresh set of less complex maps for this small-size book.
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