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Paperback Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916 Book

ISBN: 0753822024

ISBN13: 9780753822029

Through German Eyes: The British and the Somme 1916

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Book Overview

The 1916 Battle of the Somme is one of history's bloodiest moments, with more than one million casualties in five months. Analyzing hitherto unknown archival material, including long-lost interviews of British POWs by German interrogators, historian Christopher Duffy paints a picture that will change your perception of the past. While the battle is often seen as a defeat for the British, for the first time the German perspective--such as their respect...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Interesting Account of the British from a German Perspective

I would like to echo the reviewers who rated this book highly. Duffy does not duplicate Jack Sheldon's work on World War One battles as recounted by German participants. As noted in the review title, this book focuses on the British Army as viewed by the Germans. While the Somme is notorious for the horrific slaughter on 1 July 1916, Duffy shows that the British learned quickly (more so than World War 2?) and became quite dogged opponents in the eyes of the German Army. Highly recommended even for those who are not particularly interested in World War One.

Very Good, No Complaints

The title says it all. This is not a book on the Somme that focuses solely on what units did what, where they did it, how they did it, etc. It truly is a window into the German thoughts about the battle. Many of the book's sources are directly from German intelligence interrogations and subsequent briefs prepared by German intelligence officers. The book also gives the reader a quick background on the current state of the armies on each side on the eve of battle. The book ends with several chapters on artillery, airpower, etc. used during the battle. It will probably be best to read this book after reading a more detailed book on the Somme battle (Gilbert's book on the Somme is very good).

Outstanding addition to Somme literature

I have read many books on the Somme and recently visited the battlefields. Most of the Brits regard the British Army at the time as a group of lions led by donkeys and I must say after seeing the actual battlefields that General Haig deserves the harsh criticism history has accorded him. But this book reveals how much the Germans feared the British assaults and shows how close the British came to a break through although they were never able to exploit their successful assaults. And the book reveals that the British and French strategy of maintaining simultaneous attacks on the western front while the Russians and Italians mounted simultaneous attacks on the other fronts strained the German defenders almost to the breaking point. The heavy German losses of officers and noncommissioned officers on the Somme greatly strained the German army and made the remainder of the war more of an even match than the two previous years had been. Still, I have to agree with the observer who said that Douglas Haig was the greatest Scottish general for he killed more Englishmen than any other Scottish general.

Only others see you as you really are.

This books sets a new standard for military history. Most authors rely on the accounts of only one side, often because there is no other choice, but it does mean even a hard working historian can be writing a form of fiction. Rarely do you get a historian who can find and master the sources for both sides of a conflict. This book is based on German intelligence reports following the interrogation of British prisoners. It reflects the opinions of skilled, professional and fascinated observers. I don't think we have ever seen anything like this before, military history without the special pleading, the propaganda, and the justifications. It's not only a vital book for those interested in the First World War or the British Army, but others should try it as an inspiration on what military history should be.

A Fresh Look at the Great War.

Those of us readers who cannot seem to quench our thirst of knowledge of the Great War have reason to celebrate of late, as we have been fortunate to have received a large number of highly gifted writers who have, in recent months, undertaken the daunting challenge of presenting the Great War to us as never before. In this recent work, THROUGH GERMAN EYES: THE BRITISH AND THE SOMME 1916, Christopher Duffy presents Bavarian military records and archives hidden away for over three quarters of a century. At the initial battle of the Somme on July1, 1916, the British suffered their worst military defeat in their storied history. Duffy's account shows how this defeat destroyed the Prussian view of the British army. The German upper class already held low perceptions of their British counterparts, and the Somme defeat of the British led to further underestimation of their new adversaries. Does this all sound a bit convoluted? After all, if the British suffered their worst defeat in their history, losing over 60,000 men, and the Germans had underestimated them, how could that all be bad for Germany? After that tumultuous first day of battle, the British would regroup and regenerate their resolve and over the next four and half months, the Battle ground of the Somme would claim the lives of over a half million Germans. Troop strength the Germans could not afford to lose. British innovation would also weigh heavily on Germany with the first combined efforts and utilization of tanks and aircraft to support the British trench warriors. The ultimate British victory at the Somme proved catastrophic for Germany at Verdun as well. The lose of so much manpower and equipment forced Germany into halting their action there, as well as canceling other planned offensives. Ultimately, Duffy's book will make another fine addition to your World War I library. This book is fast paced and quite readable. Duffy, as well as a handful of other current day writers are to be commended for tilling up new ground on a catastrophic war fought nearly a century ago. Just when one thinks there is nothing new under the sun, a book like this comes along. Monty Rainey
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