TO THE LAST MAN by Lyn Macdonald


Spring 1918
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Beautifully written, spectacularly researched account of the almost end of the Great War by the author of 1915: The Death of Innocence (1995). Macdonald, who has written six other books on aspects of WWI, weaves together the forgotten voices of the war to create a comprehensive picture that offers a perspective unlike the ones provided by such contemporary historians as John Keegan or Niall Ferguson, both of whom focus on the larger activities and implications of the war. Macdonald uses the official history only as background to the accounts of the enlisted men, and often their stories run counter to the official record. To the Last Man concentrates on the massive German offensive of March 1918, an attempt to turn the tide of the war. Freed up from hostilities on the Eastern Front by a Russia that was wracked by revolution and threatened in France by a soon-to-arrive American army, the Germans launched what was to be their last effort to break the stalemate in their favor with a massive attack on France. Throughout the narrative the oral testimonies of the officers and soldiers punctuate MacDonald’s clear recounting of the history and present haunting memories of “the war to end all wars——tales such as the memory of a British brigadier general walking through a portion of the battlefield where his son died and questioning “how it was possible that any troops could attack such a position in broad daylight on a lovely July morning.” The ultimate account of the end of the Great War and a poignant reminder that the best military history doesn’t forget the soldiers who fought and those who died. (16 pages photos, not seen; 17 maps)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7867-0663-5
Page count: 416pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999