'There was hardly a household in the land', writes Lyn Macdonald, 'there was no trade, occupation, profession or community, which was not represented in the thousands of innocent enthusiasts who made up the ranks of Kitchener's Army before the Battle of the Somme...' The year 1916 was one of the great turning-points in British history: as the youthful hopes of a generation were crushed in a desperate struggle to survive, and traditional attitudes to authority were destroyed for ever. On paper, few battles have ever been so meticulously planned. Yet while there were good political reasons to launch a joint offensive with a French Army demoralized by huge casualties at Verdun, the raw troops on the ground knew nothing of that.
A hundred and fifty thousand were killed in the punishing shellfire, the endless ordeal of attack and counter-attack; twice that number were left maimed or wounded. Here, almost for the first time, Lyn Macdonald lets the men who were there give their own testimony. Their stories are vivid, harrowing, sometimes terrifying - yet shot through with humour, immense courage and an astonishing spirit of resilience.
"What the reader will longest remember are the words - heartbroken, blunt, angry - of the men who lived through the bloodbath ...a worthy addition to the literature of the Great War..." (Daily Mail). Over the past twenty years Lyn Macdonald has established a popular reputation as an author and historian of the First World War. Her books are based on the accounts of eyewitnesses and survivors, told in their own words, and cast a unique light on the First World War.