Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Buffnut453

Best book on the Battle of the Somme?

Recommended Posts

Buffnut453

There are SO MANY books on this infamous battle that I'm suffering from decision paralysis.  I'm hoping forum pals can offer recommendations for the best single volume on the battle.

 

I need something readable but which allows me to envisage the various ebbs and flows of the battle.  I'm a published military historian and have been on several "staff rides" over the years, so quality of maps within the book is a high priority for me 

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Buffnut453

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Ok...no takers so far?

 

I've taken the plunge and ordered Lyn MacDonald's book on the Somme, working on the assumption that it follows a similar pattern to her book on Passchendaele.  

 

My current shortlist of other options includes:

 

The Somme: the Darkest Hour on the Western Front - Peter Hart

Somme: Into the Breach - Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

Three Armies on the Somme - William Philpott

 

Anyone have any recommendations from the above 3 titles...or any other recommended works?

 

Many thanks,
Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michelle Young

Martin Middlebrook First Day on the Somme is always a good read

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Thanks Michelle.  I like Martin Middlebrook as a historian and author but, alas, I need a book which covers at least the second day of the Somme since that's when my relative was wounded.  I might still invest in Middlebrook's work...but at a later date.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gilbo139
1 hour ago, Buffnut453 said:

Ok...no takers so far?

 

I've taken the plunge and ordered Lyn MacDonald's book on the Somme, working on the assumption that it follows a similar pattern to her book on Passchendaele.  

Lyn tends to take some stick on this forum but as I’ve stated before they appeal to me and certainly come under the readable category.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453
1 minute ago, gilbo139 said:

Lyn tends to take some stick on this forum but as I’ve stated before they appeal to me and certainly come under the readable category.

 

I liked her Passchendaele book because it provided the Tommy's eye view, which is so often missing from battle histories.  I'm hoping her book on the Somme Battle fills a similar niche.

 

Now I just need to find a comprehensive overview volume with good maps to provide the general's eye view.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fattyowls

I've never been a big MacDonald fan but I do like Peter Barton's 'The Somme: A New Panoramic Perspective'. The contemporary photos alone are superb but the maps and text are very good too.  It is very big but I think it might give you what you are looking for. Probably not so good if you are going to carry it with you to Picardie.

 

Pete.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Hmmm....thanks for the recommendation, Pete.  I'd seen that book but wondered if it was merely a "coffee table" volume with little of substance.  It seems like it might be worth adding to the list.  I note he also did one for Passchendaele so I might pick up both volumes.  

 

Many thanks,

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nigelcave

Depending on how much time you have got ....

 

Farrar-Hockley's The Somme

Gary Sheffield's The Somme

 

Both short(ish), competent accounts of the 1916 battle.

 

 

William Philpott's book on the Somme, whose title escapes me, but I am pretty sure it is 'Bloody Victory' - one of the few accounts to give the French contribution a suitable weighting - a large tome.

And from the German point of view, Jack Sheldon's 'The Germans on the Somme'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
41 minutes ago, nigelcave said:

 

Farrar-Hockley's The Somme

 

 

Not far shy of 60 years old (first published 1964). Still one of the best straightforward descriptions of the campaign. I have the old Pan British Battles paperback. Six bob!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MAW

I would recommend 'The Somme, The Day-by-Day Account' by Chris McCarthy, 1993

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ilkley remembers

It's some years since I read 'The Somme by Australian historians Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson but remember thoroughly enjoying it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
stiletto_33853

If you want descriptions of the actions, units involved, objectives, results etc another one worth bearing in mind is Barry Cuttell's books "One Day on the Somme, 1st July 1916" & "148 Days on the Somme, 2nd July to 26th November 1916.

These also contain sketch maps of attacks and pictures of the area.

 

Andy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Thanks to all for your recommendations.  As expected, I won't be buying one book but at least 3 or 4.  That said, I do appreciate all the recommendations which gave me more options than I had in my original list, all of which had not come up in my initial searches. 

 

Many thanks to all!

 

Kind regards
Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marilyne

I join Nigel's input on this; William Philpott's "Bloody Victory" and Anthony Farrar-Hockley's "The Somme" are, in my humble opinion, the TWO must-reads on this topic. If you say you want a third, then there is no passing Martin Middlebrook's "First Day", especially because it sets the setting for the rest of the battle… even if your relative died on day two, you'll be able to pinpoint exactly where the unit was, what their mission was and what the next day would bring.

 

Good luck.

 

M;

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chaz

Just finished Understanding the Somme 1916 by Thomas Scotland and Steven Heys. Covers all the places we frequently drive around, with pictures and sketches of the local areas of actions. As it says, An illuminating battlefield guide. We drive hours and find places are just over the hill..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marilyne
On ‎26‎/‎03‎/‎2020 at 05:06, chaz said:

Just finished Understanding the Somme 1916 by Thomas Scotland and Steven Heys. Covers all the places we frequently drive around, with pictures and sketches of the local areas of actions. As it says, An illuminating battlefield guide. We drive hours and find places are just over the hill..

 

going to keep that one in mind… ordering in Amazon right now has no use because it takes them ages to deliver, but by the time the confinement is over, I'll probably make a HUGE order…

 

M.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steven Broomfield
2 hours ago, chaz said:

my collection has enlarged this year thanks to the offers on Naval and military press. they send out a paper quarterly with great offers.

https://www.naval-military-press.com/product-category/the-great-war/

 

 

Their email updates are pretty good too.

 

Well, I think they're good. Mrs Broomfield might disagree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...