Cover image for Passchendaele : the untold story
Passchendaele : the untold story
Prior, Robin.
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
New Haven ; London : Yale Nota Bene, 2002.

Physical Description:
xxi, 237 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published: New Haven: London: Yale University Press, 1996.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D542.Y72 P75 1996C Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



No conflict of the Great War excites stronger emotions than the war in Flanders in the autumn of 1917, and no name better encapsulates the horror and apparent futility of the Western Front than Passchendaele. By its end there had been 275,000 Allied and 200,000 German casualties. Yet the territorial gains made by the Allies in four desperate months were won back by Germany in only three days the following March. The devastation at Passchendaele, the authors argue, was neither inevitable nor inescapable; perhaps it was not necessary at all. Using a substantial archive of official and private records, much of which has never been previously consulted, Trevor Wilson and Robin Prior provide the fullest account of the campaign ever published.

The book examines the political dimension at a level which has hitherto been absent from accounts of "Third Ypres." It establishes what did occur, the options for alternative action, and the fundamental responsibility for the carnage. Prior and Wilson consider the shifting ambitions and stratagems of the high command, examine the logistics of war, and assess what the available manpower, weaponry, technology, and intelligence could realistically have hoped to achieve. And, most powerfully of all, they explore the experience of the soldiers in the light--whether they knew it or not--of what would never be accomplished.

Author Notes

Robin Prior is lecturer in history at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra. Trevor Wilson is professor of history at the University of Adelaide.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Passchendaele was one of the objectives of the disastrous British offensive in Flanders during 1917. As such it is synonymous with the persistent futility of warfare on the Western Front, but it evokes something more: a campaign dragged on through torrential autumn rains, with many men either drowned in flooded shell craters or lost in the treacherous mud. Despite the familiarity of this debacle, Prior and Wilson, both distinguished historians, have conducted extensive primary research to provide an account at once both provocative and authoritative. The authors are justifiably critical of British commander Sir Douglas Haig's capacity for self-delusion in his remorseless search for a breakthrough victory, when more limited "bite-and-hold" operations afforded the only reasonable chances of success. Their real contribution, though, lies in their ability to integrate various levels of the campaign and, in particular, to demonstrate the political failure of Lloyd George and the War Cabinet to manage the campaign responsibly. Clearly written and trenchantly argued, this book will be a stimulating addition to any library's shelves. Upper-division undergraduates and above. F. Coetzee George Washington University