We feature each week Nicholas Reid's reviews and comments on new and recent books.
War were not in the Gallipoli campaign, about which we talk so much, but on the Western Front. The October 1917 attack at Passchendaele was the most lethal phase for New Zealanders (yes, I have a great-uncle buried somewhere there – but then thousands of New Zealanders of my generation could say the same thing.) But countering the German Spring Offensive of March and April 1918 was no picnic either; nor was the New Zealanders’ action in Bapaume in the last stages of the war (August-September 1918). At least one can say, however, that these two latter actions contributed to final victory. As Harper notes, they were hard fought, but casualties were fairly even on both sides and the German army was dislodged and pushed back. There is tragedy, but there is not that awful sense of futility one gets from reading about Passchendaele (or the first day of the Somme).