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Martin Middlebrook (1932–2024)

Author of The First Day on the Somme

18 Works 2,102 Members 25 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Martin Middlebrook has written many other books that deal with important turning-point in the two world wars, including The First Day on the Somme, The Kaiser's Battle, The Peeneminde Raid, The Somme Battlefields (with Mary Middlebrook), The Nuremberg Raid 30-31st March 1944 and Arnhem 1944 (all show more republished and in print with Pen and Sword). show less
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An excellent history of the first day of this 1916 battle first published in 1971. The author discusses the formation of Kitchener's New Army in detail. He picks 10 British combatants and follows their contributions and adventures through the battle and after it. The book is divided into chapters based on the time of day as the battle progressed. The book is almost entirely about the British component of the battle. The French activity on the British right is mentioned only when necessary, and there are a few diary excerpts and comments from within the German line. The author's analysis of the battle is relatively conservative and level-headed, with tempering statements about what was known and expected at the time. General (later Field Marshall) Haig gets off pretty easy with General Rawlinson and Lieutenant General R. C. Maxwell in the Quartermaster General's department taking the brunt of criticism (now, not then). I was not aware that General Allenby, the hero of the Near East, later High Commissioner for Egypt, and for whom the West Bank bridge is named, was considered a screw-up in Europe and was sent to the Middle East essentially as punishment.
Mr. Middlebrook takes care to tally British casualties (on July 1, 1916 only) at about 57,000, more than all British loses in the Crimean, Boer, and Korean Wars combined. He discusses the history of the British war cemeteries there, and he has an appendix that is an outline of a modern motor tour of the area.
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markm2315 | 7 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
Over the course of 11 days in the summer of 1943, Allied bombers conducted six major air raids on Hamburg. Historians call this sustained period of bombing the Battle of Hamburg; citizens of that city refer to it as "die Katastrophe." How was this notoriously dangerous mission carried out--and how, amazingly, did everything go exactly according to plan for the Allies? Using the perspective of flight crews on both sides, and the citizenry below, the answers come into brilliant focus.
 
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MasseyLibrary | 2 other reviews | Jan 15, 2023 |
A really interesting book that simply couldn't be written now as Middlebrook interviewed c. 400 people who took part in the events of that night, most of whom will now have passed away.

The insight given by the raft of interviewees runs through the book as does Middlebrook's obvious in-depth knowledge of the subject (even if there are some minor errors even I was able to pick up). David Irvine is widely quoted, but I understand that his work on the V programme remains valid despite, as Wikipedia essentially puts it, his reputation being trashed on other matters, so don't let that put you off.

Middlebrook tries hard to cover both sides of the story and at times seems somewhat sympathetic to the Germans and in particular the rocket scientists, whose work leading us to getting to the moon appears to over-rise any other concerns the author may have. However the balance isn't too bad overall.

It's almost incredible that a book of this length can be written about a single night, but it obviously can and this is definitely worth a read for anyone with even a passing interest in the topic.
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expatscot | 3 other reviews | May 29, 2020 |

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Works
18
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