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The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western…
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The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2005; vuoden 2009 painos)

– tekijä: Peter Hart (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
287370,718 (4.04)1
Traces the harrowing 1916 "Big Push" confrontation between English, French, and German forces during which the British lost more than twenty thousand soldiers in the first day, in a narrative account drawn from letters, diaries, and first-person testimonies.
Jäsen:CraigGrimm
Teoksen nimi:The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front
Kirjailijat:Peter Hart (Tekijä)
Info:Pegasus Books (2009), Edition: First Edition, 624 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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The Somme (tekijä: Peter Hart) (2005)

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näyttää 3/3
Peter Hart provides an excellent perspective on the day to day tactics in the battle, and the experience of ordinary soldiers and artillerymen at the front. There are extensive quotations from participants, mostly British, but also a few Germans. The maps and photos are also very good. The book is not as strong on the overall strategy of the battle and the British role in WWI, and very little is provided about what is happening on the German side. Overall, very worthwhile. ( )
  jrtanworth | Aug 28, 2011 |
The combined British and French offensive in the Somme River Valley of 1916 was one of the deadliest battles in the history of warfare. It lasted from July 1 until the middle of November when winter weather compelled a relaxation of hostilities. The British suffered 419,654 casualties, with 131,000 dead; the French had 204,000 casualties; the Germans 450,000 – 600,000. The original goal was to break through the German trenches on the western front, their first objective being the village of Bapaume, which lay about 5 miles behind the first German trenches. When the breakthrough proved impossible, the offensive continued in order to relieve pressure on the French, who were engaged in a battle of similar magnitude at Verdun. In the end, the British had moved the front line forward a few hundred yards, and the German trenches remained substantially intact. The village of Bapaume remained in German hands.

Hart’s narrative takes us from the first day of the battle, when the British incurred 57,470 casualties and 19,240 dead, to its sanguinary climax. He covers in significant detail virtually every significant attack, and there were many. His technique is to give a general overview, and then fill in the details with extensive quotes from letters written by the participants. Looking back nearly 100 years, one has to marvel at the literacy of the British army.

The book is a treasure trove for the serious student of World War I. However, it, like the battle itself, takes its toll on the reader. There were a great many individual attacks, all with agonizingly similar results: a heavy artillery barrage was followed by a “charge” of infantry men weighed down by their battle impedimenta, and a virtual slaughter in no man’s land. Sometimes the attackers actually made it to the German trenches, but even when they succeeded in taking the trench, they were seldom able to hold it because a prompt counterattack drove them back to the original start line.

During the course of several months, the British adapted their tactics slightly, but only slightly. They learned that the intensity of the artillery barrage was crucial to any success. They became more adept at the “creeping” barrage that landed just ahead of the advancing infantry. The men learned to use shell holes for cover, but usually found them already occupied, often by corpses. The first tanks were introduced by the British in this battle, but though they at first terrified the Germans, they were very slow and prone to frequent mechanical breakdown.

Hart’s criticism of the British generals, Douglas Haig in particular, is less harsh than that of most other analysts I have read. Haig believed that the Germans might have prevailed in 1914 if they had only persevered in their attacks a little longer, and he did not want to make the same mistake. Thus, the British Army dug in for the long haul, and suffered heavy casualties that it could ill afford, for insignificant tactical gain.

Moreover, to win the war, Haig reasoned that it would not be sufficient merely to take back the French territory lost. The German army had to be defeated. To Haig, it was a waste of manpower to engage in battles in other theaters, as the “Easterners” like David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill advocated. Hart opines that Haig and (his second in command) Robertson “may have been unimaginative, they were definitely ruthless when required, but above all they were hard, practical men and they were entirely right” in assessing how to beat the Germans in the situation they faced.

There were political as well as strategic considerations in play as well: "Even if Haig had fully realized the depth and breadth of the losses suffered by his assaulting divisions on 1 July he could not have aborted the offensive without seriously jeopardizing the Entente Cordiale with France and Russia … They were unlikely to look on with any great sympathy if Britain tried to evade her share of the 'butcher’s bill.'”

Evaluation: Hart’s favorable analysis of Haig is pointed and controversial. (Some of the epithets that have been applied to Haig include "The Butcher of the Somme" and "The Worst General of World War I.") It is also very terse, taking up no more than 15 pages of a 550 page book. The remaining 530 pages support Hart’s characterization of the military leadership as “unimaginative.” I would not recommend this book to anyone who did not want to read a blow-by-blow account of a five and one-half month battle. ( )
1 ääni nbmars | Feb 26, 2011 |
a good and very detailed examation of that bloody battle. I wonder how men on both sides endured it ( )
  michaelbartley | Oct 27, 2009 |
näyttää 3/3
Hart has no big-picture sense of the place of the Great War in the narrative of the 20th century—he is as committed to the mud of Flanders and Picardy as his forebears were. Nonetheless, as one turns his pages, one is compelled to be impressed by the way he builds his relentless and one-dimensional case.
 

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Traces the harrowing 1916 "Big Push" confrontation between English, French, and German forces during which the British lost more than twenty thousand soldiers in the first day, in a narrative account drawn from letters, diaries, and first-person testimonies.

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