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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

'There was hardly a household in the land', writes Lyn Macdonald, 'there was no trade, occupation, profession or community, which was not represented in the thousands of innocent enthusiasts who made up the ranks of Kitchener's Army before the Battle of the Somme....'

The year 1916 was one of the great turning-points in British history: as the youthful hopes of a generation were crushed in a desperate struggle to survive and traditional attitudes to authority were destroyed for ever. On paper, few battles have ever been so meticulously planned. Yet while there were good political reasons to launch a joint offensive with a French Army demoralised by huge casualties at Verdun, the raw troops on the ground knew nothing of that. A 150,000 were killed in the punishing shellfire, the endless ordeal of attack and counter-attack; twice that number were left maimed or wounded. Here, almost for the first time, Lyn Macdonald lets the men who were there give their own testimony. Their stories are vivid, harrowing, sometimes terrifying - yet shot through with humour, immense courage and an astonishing spirit of resilience.

Over the past 20 years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and survivors, told in their own words, and cast a unique light on the First World War.

©1983 Lyn MacDonald (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"What the reader will longest remember are the words - heartbroken, blunt, angry - of the men who lived through the bloodbath...a worthy addition to the literature of the Great War!" (Daily Mail

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  • Ruth
  • 02-09-21

Another five start listen

I have now listen to all three of Lyn McDonald's Great War books available on audible. They are all excellent, covering all aspects of the battles. First hand accounts from the soldiers that were there. Moving accounts, and even a touch of humour is included. Lynn McDonald is in my opinion the finest writer of the Great War accounts. The narration is also first class. I was sorry to finish. I will certainly listen repeated times. Throughly recommended.

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  • The Coordinator
  • 01-22-22

Somme

I first read this book 41 years ago when it was first published. I found it emotional at times then . I have just listened to this adaptation, I found it emotional and touching,the humour of the " Tommy " as well as the humanity that can be found the worst of circumstances.
Well read by Alison Dowling.

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  • Mrs Libby Hauton
  • 04-19-21

one of the best accounts of the somme

Well researched book with interesting and at times unbelievable records of acts carried out by the soldiers. Well reccomended.

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  • Peadar
  • 12-29-20

An educational insight into WW1

I’m delighted to recommend this great title to you as I am a huge fan of Lyn McDonald’s detailed writing style. The narrator brought the personal accounts to life and I found many very moving. The clarity and tone of said narrator was a perfect match for the book.

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  • EJ
  • 12-18-20

I love Lyn MacDonald Books

The British folk memory of the Battle of the Somme is dominated by one moment: 7.30am on 1st July 1916. It was a bright summer’s day, the sun well up, and falling from the east on the backs of the German defenders and into the faces of the British. Officers sounded their whistles, and their men scrambled up ladders to get out of the trenches and into No Man’s Land. By the day’s end 19,240 British soldiers had been killed and nearly twice that number wounded: the total of 57,470 casualties was and remains the highest suffered by the British Army in a single day. Lyn Macdonald writes of the whole battle which petered out in the wet and mud in November 1916. A mesmerising read that I could not stop listening to until I had finished. The narration is excellent.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-21

Amazing

One of the best books I’ve ever read. A thorough interpretation of the Great War.