Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Book Review: The Greatest Day In History

This is not a local history book. It covers succinctly, though with an eye for detail, the final days of the First World War through events on the battlefields of the Western Front and the diplomatic efforts to secure an Armistice.

Nicholas Best subtitles the book, ‘How the Great War really ended’.

The Armistice itself was signed at just after 5.00am. On the 11th day of the 11th month we learn that at Mons the fighting continued after the Armistice had been signed. That previous evening the Canadians had recaptured the land which the Allies had fled in August 1914. The view of the commanders was to gain more ground than was lost initially. Men were killed in the final hour before 11am. “The Western Front saw something like 10,944 casualties on 11 November, including 2,738 dead. It was almost as many as D-Day”.

“The Armistice terms were outrageous”, Best tells us. Throughout the book there is the ominous foreboding that this would not be the war to end all wars.

‘The Greatest Day in History’ by Nicholas Best (Phoenix, 2008) is available in paperback.

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