A New History
London: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2017
Paperback 464pp RRP $23.75
Reviewer: Mike O’Brien, January 2022
Another book on the Third Battle of Ypres – Passchendaele – why? The reviewer’s simple answer is balance. Too little attention is paid to the German half of this story. Lloyd redresses this gap.
This is a battle-by-battle account of the campaign. It covers the politics, particularly the vacillations of Lloyd George and the interplay between Robertson (Chief of the Imperial General Staff) and Haig. The differing tactics of the Army Commanders (Gough and Plumer) are examined, and the clear advantages of the latter’s ‘bite and hold’ approach pointed out.
During the five-month campaign, almost half a million men were lost. Of course, Australians are likely to be interested in the battles in which the I & II Anzac Corps were involved. Lloyd gives the Australians close attention for all the battles in which they took part. He perhaps pays lesser attention to the New Zealanders, particularly for the Battle of Broodseinde. The fighting in these weeks cost the Australians 38,000 casualties and the New Zealanders at least 4300. Despite its infamous reputation, the battle took a heavy toll on the German defenders and underlined the effectiveness of ‘bite and hold’ set-piece attacks.
Nick Lloyd teaches at the UK Joint Service Command and Staff College at Shrivenham. This was book was shortlisted for the British Army Military Book of the Year, the Military History Monthly Book of the Year, and was chosen as one of the Telegraph's '50 Best Books of 2017'.
The successor to this book is to be a three-volume history of the First World War. The first in this series, The Western Front (2021) is in our collection awaiting review. I would highly recommend Passchendaele.
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.