No conflict of the Great War excites stronger emotions than the war in Flanders in the autumn of 1917, and no name better encapsulates the horror and apparent futility of the Western Front than 'Passchendaele'. By its end there had been 275,000 Allied and 200,000 German casualties. Yet the territorial gains made in four desperate months were won back by Germany in only three days the following March. The devastation at Passchendaele, the authors argue, was neither inevitable nor inescapable; nor perhaps was it necessary at all. Using a substantial archive of official private records, much of which has never been previously consulted or exploited for a work of this kind, Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson provide the fullest account of the campaign yet published. The book examines the political dimension at a level which has hitherto been absent from accounts of 'Third Ypres'. It establishes what did occur, the options for alternative action, and the fundamental responsibility for the carnage. Prior and Wilson consider the shifting ambitions and stratagems of the high command, examine the logistics of war, and assess what the available manpower, weaponry, technology and intelligence could realistically have hoped to achieve. Most powerfully of all, they explore the experience of the men on the ground in the light - whether they knew it or not - of what was never going to be accomplished.
This book will appeal to both the scholar and the general public and belongs in every World War I collection.
The authors excel in their thorough use of original sources to provide a masterly account . . . clearly related and supported by admirable maps.
—Times Literary Supplement
The authors excel in their thorough use of original sources to provide a masterly account ... clearly related and supported by admirable maps.
— Times Literary Supplement
Prior and Wilson, both distinguished historians, have conducted extensive primary research to provide an account at once both provocative and authoritative.
E. S. Turner
Lucid and persuasive.
— London Review of Books
The clearest and most balanced picture yet of a battle whose very name evokes the horror and supposed futility of [World War I].
— The Spectator
[An] extraordinary investigation of Sir Douglas Haig’s ruinous Ypres campaign of 1917. . . . This is the most wide-ranging and perceptive account of Passchendaele yet written. [This] book not only captures the agony of the soldiers’ war but,in the measured,understated tone of the best prosecutors,leads us to inevitable conclusions.
—Military History Quarterly
[An] extraordinary investigation of Sir Douglas Haig's ruinous Ypres campaign of 1917... . This is the most wide-ranging and perceptive account of Passchendaele yet written. [This] book not only captures the agony of the soldiers' war but, in the measured, understated tone of the best prosecutors, leads us to inevitable conclusions.
— Military History Quarterly
Without a doubt the best book on the campaign yet published... . It is well-researches, well-written, and will keep historians arguing for years to come.
Virginia Quarterly Review
The authors should be commended for writing a balanced, convincing work that reveals the devastation of the First World War and the failure of military and political leaders to recognize this horror.
A monument to scholarship, economical and often eloquent writing, and a solid grasp of the real issues involved in World War I... . This is a great book... . It is a book that every marine who aspires to higher command should add to his or her library—one that will undoubtedly reward its owner by rereading and rereading.
— Marine Corps Gazette