Review: The Middlebrook Guide to the Somme Battlefields (Middlebrook)


The Middlebrook Guide to the Somme Battlefields: A Comprehensive Coverage from Crécy to the World Wars.

The Somme bears 600 years of battle scars, but although the vast majority of those documented date from the First World War, the authors also do justice to the outliers (1346 and the 1940s). Many individual casualties are identified, which contribute an intensely personal feeling to the book.

The intent is to assist the battlefield visitor, but the details are so densely packed, it takes slow, careful study to absorb them. The book is packed with 90 photographs (mostly modern, a few archival) and more than two dozen maps, and the text provides concise summaries of the action in each locale. There is a brief bibliography, and a comprehensive index that’s divided into four parts: a General index, Place Names, Military Units, Soldiers and Airmen, with some further subdivision according to units or nationality.

My copy (Pen & Sword 2007 edition) is sturdily bound in hardcover with a dust jacket, and printed on heavy, semi-gloss stock, contributing a significant heft that makes the book a better desk reference than a traveler’s guidebook, but despite its cumbersome weight, Great War tourists will still find it extremely valuable.

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