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This book places the battle of the Somme in its ...
on 18 September 2016
This book places the battle of the Somme in its full context, setting it not just as a battle in its own right, but part of the wider battle that encompasses the fighting from 1915 until the summer of 1918 on the western front. When viewed through this prism, Philpott argues that the success and significance of the Somme has been underplayed in history, with the focus being on the human tragedy (which is never denied), and the myths that have grown from interwar views, notably those of Churchill and Lloyd George, but also Liddell Hart and A.J.P Taylor. This view of the battle, and many heavy weight historians are taken to task here, the flaws and agendas in their arguments exposed.
The author also brings to the fore the role of France and the French army in the battle, restoring their rightful lace in its history, in a way that has not been done before, reminding the reader that France was not just involved in Verdun in 1916, but had an important role to play on the Somme too. This alone makes the book required reading for a serious scholar of the western front.
Certainly not a popular history, this weighty tome, the hard back version is in excess of 600 pages, has an impressive scope, focusing not just on the military tactics deployed but the wider geopolitical, entente politics, and historical context for the battle. The tragedy of the soldiers experience is alluded too, but this is not a bringing to life of the individual soldier's experience, and in fact argues how this focus has distorted our understanding of the battle.