This builds up to the great slaughter on the Somme, July 1, 1916, and tells, through Mark Fenner, of the forming of a city battalion and its fate that was ""Two years in the making. Ten minutes in the destroying. That was our history"". Through his eyes are seen the men who answered Kitchener's call -- those that were taken and those that were refused, and all the details of their disorganized first days, of their training which reached its peak under Patrick Bold, and of the unheroic lives they led, in England and later in Egypt. What they learned about actual trench warfare, how they responded to that impact, and what they did on the day itself in the midst of almost complete annihilation -- this is the story which has been documented by experts and survivors in previous years: the minute accounting is impressive and the typicality of Fenner's companions underlines the finale. But there is a question about a total effect -- anger at human stupidity, at the butchery, at the senseless glory, at the waste of war -- which keeps this a capable record -- not a gripping novel.