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James Hurst
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
This is a book about Australia’s best known battle and the author sets out to encapsulate a very short time period in amazing detail. One day in some quite incredible depth. The author attempts, and largely succeeds, in putting some meat on the bones of a day that has gone down in legend and become clouded in myth. It shows with startling clarity the differing view of the same event as it happens to individual present. It is the story of the 11th Western Australian Battalion and its Officers and Men.

I circled the book warily for a week or so as it looked suspiciously like a dry dusty tome reference book to me. A bit heavy for me thinks I, probably best in the reference section of the library and drawn out now and again by like minded scholars on the subject to make a point or reference....

It is quite wordy with all the timings laid out and corroborated as much as possible throughout the day. The book has a good amount of photographs, figures and maps and much back tracking checking and re-reading went on following the various ‘stories’ of individual soldiers...

I wasn’t expecting the personal involvement. It was very emotional, and reading the soldiers tales, in their own words in many instances, was inspirational and often times extremely sad. The numbers killed and wounded were staggering. Putting into context modern day campaigns where every individual counts, and sub 500 killed over a protracted 10 year campaign has been classed as disastrous.

The book is not an easy read, but perseverance is worthwhile. The author has done a staggering amount of research and gone into amazing detail. I found myself trapped in the soldiers words, anxious to find out more. Its a good addition to the bookshelf of history buffs, and will make an excellent reference book. Micro history that will undoubtedly challenge perceived knowledge. A straightening up of what we thought we knew about the battle.

A fascinating read with the soldier’s words and stories becoming their legacy...

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4.00 star(s) 1 ratings