October 24, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: ANZACS on the Western Front: The War Memorial Battlefield Guide


This month's guest reviewer is Chris Epple, our Customer Co-ordinator, Academic. Chris recently joined our Customer Service department and we are delighted he was so interested in this forthcoming Australian book from Wiley.  Here is his review of ANZACs on the Western Front: The War Memorial Battlefield Guide written by Peter Pedersen with Chris Roberts:

A quick search for Western Front battlefield guidebooks produces a very short list of mostly out of date titles. In a time when battlefields tourism is on an increase and more and more people are becoming interested in visiting the Australian and New Zealand battlefields of Gallipoli and France this book is a well timed introduction to the travel guide market. Even more so when you realise the 100th anniversary of the Great War is less than three years away!

Peter Pedersen has produced a thoroughly well researched guide to the battlefields of the Western Front from the ANZACS 1916 baptism of fire at Bois Grenier/ Fleurbaix to the final campaigns of 1918 and all the battles in between. The guide covers the battles of Fromelles, the Somme, Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt, Ypres, Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Villers-Bretonneux, and many many more.

Pedersen describes each battlefield in intricate detail using pictures taken at the time of each battle, maps, present day photographs, and by pointing out current landmarks in the landscape. These are all used to good effect so that you can orientate yourself on the battlefield to get a glimpse of how each battle unfolded. You can really get a sense of how the battlefields must have looked like to the ANZACS.

He introduces each battlefield by chapter, outlines the conflicts with a narrative of the events of that particular confrontation to place the battle within the wider strategic theatre of operation in the war. Then goes on to describe the key moments of the battle, who won or lost ground, and the Australian and New Zealand units involved at each point as the battle ebbed and flowed. The reader is then instructed on how best to drive and walk each battlefield. The reader is taken through the battlefield and explains the layout of the battle on the present day landscape, pointing out where opposing lines and trenches were and the objectives of the attacks. You then follow the attacks and counterattacks as each battle progresses over the countryside.

The number of cemeteries located at each battlefield makes the brutality and horror of war clear. The guidebook includes every ANZAC cemetery and memorial on the Western Front, which should not be overlooked, as they are the lasting testament to so many lives lost.

As Pederson notes in the introduction “this guide cannot fully bring their words alive. You have to breathe life into them by putting your imagination to work. You will then gain some understanding of what it must have been like to be there and to appreciate the battlefields as places where ordinary men achieved great things.”

ANZACS on the Western Front is not just a guidebook, but a rare mix of a history book and travel guide that documents the battles of the ANZAC soldiers and given the reader a blow by blow account of how each encounter unfolded. For anyone wanting to visit the Western Front this is a must have. Touring the battlefields with Peter Pedersen’s assistance will allow you to gain a greater appreciation of the shocking events of WW1, as if you had your own personal guide travelling with you.

ISBN 9781742169811 | November 2011 | Paperback | 600 pages | AU$49.95
Competitive library discounts apply

1 comment:

  1. I'm so excited about this book my ancester's are from Australia and this is a bridge to my past that I've been looking for. My ancester's are featured in this book. Thank so much for.