Wednesday, 10 May 2017

FACTUAL REVIEW: 24 Hours at the Somme - Robert Kershaw

Release Date: 27/04/17
Publisher: WH Allen


The first day of the Somme has had more of a widespread emotional impact on the psyche of the British public than any other battle in history. Now, 100 years later, Robert Kershaw attempts to understand the carnage, using the voices of the British and German soldiers who lived through that awful day.
In the early hours of 1 July 1916, the British General staff placed its faith in patriotism and guts, believing that one ‘Big Push’ would bring on the end of the Great War. By sunset, there were 57,470 men – more than half the size of the present-day British Army – who lay dead, missing or wounded. On that day hope died.
Juxtaposing the British trench view against that from the German parapet, Kershaw draws on eyewitness accounts, memories and letters to expose the true horror of that day. Amongst the mud, gore and stench of death, there are also stories of humanity and resilience, of all-embracing comradeship and gritty patriotic British spirit. However it was this very emotion which ultimately caused thousands of young men to sacrifice themselves on the Somme.


The Somme is the worst day of war on record and whilst you learn about numbers and casualties in history, things are often told from the point of view of choices made by those who weren't there, relying on the accounts of the generals who made so many errors.

This title from Robert is for me one of the best books out there as it tells the full bloody history from the front lines with words from both sides of the battlefield. You get the gore, the devastation and also terror of those who faced it all. Its not a book of blame, its a book of cold hard facts and for that I applaud the author who has brought this to the fore with it no becoming more history and recently slipping out of living memory.

All round well written, carefully explained with solid prose to keep the reader engaged making this a factual title that helps bring events to life.

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