This is an extraordinary book that put the Somme back into the wider context of the First War. Too many books in English only deal with the British aspect of the Battles (all of them - Philpott lists 5 although, understandably, the 1916 action dominates this book) of the Somme - some are open about this (Middlebrook states that his story deals only with the British side) but the majority ignore, for instance, the French involvement in the actions of July 1st which was crucial. Philpott queries the myth of the Somme as "something that went wrong" rather as an critical, victorious event in the middle of a long war - almost analogous to Stalingrad 27 years later. The battle destroyed the figments of any form of legitimacy in the German Government, creating a dictatorship of Ludendorff and Hindenburg who only paid lip service to the Kaiser. It effectively ensured that Germany could not win the war - the March 21st 1918 offensive not withstanding.
The Somme is remembered as a national tragedy - especially in Northern Ireland (and in places such as Newfoundland as well as the homes of the Pals Battalions). Philpott argues, convincingly, that the Somme should be remembered as a victory - albeit one not recognised at the tme.