Thursday, 26 March 2009

Pillars of Fire

Pillars of Fire The Battle of Messines Ridge June 1917 by Ian Passingham is a fantastic book. Non-fiction, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. I posted a few days ago about mines and fighting underground, which I found on (great website by the way). This tells the story of that battle in a very gripping manner. Had I not been utterly knackered by half ten the night before last, I would've read until I finished it. As it was, I unfortunately had to leave the book unfinished. I finished it off on Wednesday though, so I did get to finish it pretty quick. Anyway, it's a fantastic portrayal of the battle. Puts it into context a bit, but I have to admit I didn't really pay much attention to that particular bit of it since I've got plenty of the context knowledge already (mostly grouped in at the end). It wove in personal accounts of the battle very well, and the diagrams and maps were actually useful! There was a little bit about how all the various parts of the battle worked, a bit about the planning, and then details of the successes and failures of the actual operation. Well worth reading. though there were things that could be improved on in the battle, which this book doesn't ignore, it makes the point quite eloquently that the tragic waste of lives during Passchendaele could have been minimised had proper lessons been taken from this attack, which showed how to do things right, and the gains that were made taken advantage of right away.

The book was written well, made it very interesting. Not quite as story-like as the Dam Busters book was, but nontheless an interesting read and I'd recommend it as extra reading to anyone studying the First World War.

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