The definitive account of the Battle of the Somme, and who was responsible for its catastrophic outcome.
The Battle of the Somme (1916) epitomizes the immensity of World War I battlefield slaughter. Australian military historians Prior (Sch. of Humanities & Social Sciences, Univ. of New South Wales) and Wilson (history, Sch. of History & Politics, Univ. of Adelaide) provide a day-by-day account of the politics, strategy, and command structure that made this particular debacle possible. They begin by demonstrating the role of civilian leadership in pushing for a great Western offensive, then move on to the planning and operational history of the battle, in the process revealing the fault lines in the British Expeditionary Force's command structure. This book revises the traditional account of British troops being ordered to march shoulder to shoulder to their doom on July 1, replacing it with a picture of poor tactical coherence among the British commanders and faulty battle preparations that left German defenses intact on the day of attack. Fundamentally, the authors posit, the type of offensive tactics the British employed did not really matter; it was the state of enemy defenses that determined the casualties. The failure to destroy German barbed wire, machine gun posts, and artillery concentrations ensured that dozens of army units were decimated prior to reaching the frontlines. Revisionist history at its best; recommended for all libraries.-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.