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For decades, the Battle of the Somme has exemplified the horrors and futility of trench warfare. Here William Philpott argues that the battle ultimately gave the British and French forces on the Western Front the knowledge and experience to bring World War I to a victorious end. Philpott shows that twentieth-century war as we know it simply didn’t exist before the battle: new technologies like the armored tank made their debut, while developments in communications lagged behind commanders’ needs. Attrition emerged as the only means of defeating industrialized belligerents that were mobilizing all their resources for war. An exciting, indispensable work of military history, Three Armies on the Somme challenges our received ideas about the Battle of the Somme, and about the very nature of war.
“A thoughtful and important book by a first-rate historian” —Richard Holmes, The Literary Review
“Philpott displays a great mastery of detail. . . . He can certainly claim to have made a solid contribution to what has been an extraordinarily long-running debate.” —The Times (London)
“A magnificent and powerful book, destined to become the standard work on the subject. Philpott is a confident guide to the battlefield and offers striking images of the fighting.” —Daily Express (London)
“In this excellent account, Philpott makes full use of his learning and his sources to describe this particular battle and its aftermath in a style which would be readily recognized by the participants if they were still in the land of the living.” —The Herald (Scotland)
“Philpott brushes aside traditional mythmaking by Winston Churchill and Basil Liddell Hart for a fresh appraisal of this four-year ‘massacre of the innocents.’ . . . A knowledgeable, all-encompassing dissection of this supreme example of ‘the consummate killing power of the machine age.’” —Kirkus Reviews