The Somme by Sarah Ridley
For many people the word 'Somme' sums up the carnage and futility of the First World War. The failure of Allied forces to achieve their objectives at such a huge cost in human lives has resonated in military circles for the past 100 years. This book tells the story of the battle and its wider repercussions, and analyses its importance to the overall outcome of the First World War.
The Somme investigates the build-up to the battle, why leaders thought the action was necessary and what they thought it would achieve. It looks at the forces involved, including the 'Pals' battalions - patriotic friends who fought, and more often than not died, together.
Although not a straightforward timeline, the book outlines the actual course of the battle beginning on 1 July 1916 and the impact of the continuing slaughter on both sides. Quotes from those who took part offer a glimpse of what it must have been like to be there, and maps show how little was actually achieved in terms of a breakthrough. Poetry, art and music inspired by the Somme campaign bring the soldiers' harrowing experiences to life. Suitable for readers aged 11 and up.