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Passchendaele and the Battles of Ypres 1914-18 by Martin Marix Evans

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The Bottom Line

Passchendaele's concise text provides an excellent introduction to the region's battles, while the artwork will still be of interest when the reader has moved on to detailed histories and source materials.
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Pros

  • Good narrative of events.
  • Many reproduction maps and photographs.

Cons

  • Some illustrations found elsewhere.

Description

  • 112 A4 pages including a short bibliography and full-colour illustration.
  • Published by Osprey.
  • ISBN: 1855327341.

Guide Review - Passchendaele and the Battles of Ypres 1914-18 by Martin Marix Evans

There's no question as to whether people interested in Ypres during World War One will want this book, as the traditional Osprey values of solid text and quality illustration are taken a step further with the reproduction of numerous tactical maps created during the conflict. While many of the drawings and photographs within Passchendaele can be found elsewhere, it's nice to have them collected here in unfettered style, many filling two pages; Osprey has fully exploited this move to the A4 format.

Evans' narration underpins the artwork and though his style is far from riveting, he's a good guide to the battles and an excellent counterweight to the incisive selection of quotes liberally scattered throughout. You'll need to look elsewhere for background as the contents is firmly focused on the Ypres region, but you will find clear accounts of the units and their movements, as well as information on lifestyle, morale and casualty figures.

There are a few weak points. The narrative concentrates on Allied actions and soldiers at the expense of an overall picture, but nowhere near as badly as other books on the subject. Equally, Evans seems to be part of the 'soldiers were victims and the commanders criminal idiots' school of thinking, but there is still balance in his account. Perhaps the greatest omission concerns statistics: Evans frequently gives us the numbers of men killed and wounded, but rarely provides any figures for those taking part, making it hard to evaluate the situation. Overall, this fine account has a text perfect for the beginner and artwork desirable to all.

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