New WWI book a labour of love for historian
Historian and author Professor Trevor Wilson has put his heart and soul into his most recent work.
In co-authoring The Somme - an account of the Somme battle fought on the Western front in 1916 during World War 1 - the Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Adelaide said he felt "extremely satisfied" following five years of extensive research.
"My co-author Robin Prior (Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales) and I worked through a staggering amount of information. And what made it exciting is that we discovered untold data," Professor Wilson said.
The result is the most precise and authentic account of the campaign on record, and a book that challenges almost every received view of the battle.
In the long history of the British Army, the Battle of the Somme was its bloodiest encounter. Between July 1 and mid-November 1916, 432,000 of its soldiers became casualties - about 3600 for every day of battle.
In their quest to find out what went wrong for the British, the authors spent considerable time at the Public Records Office in London and "lots of money" on photocopying.
"As new material came to light, we would share it and double check to ensure we had the right facts. It was quite the battle as there was so much to refer to," Professor Wilson said.
One of the world's most highly regarded World War I historians, Professor Wilson has also written Myriad Faces of War, and co-authored with Professor Prior Command in the Western Front and Passchendaele: the Untold Story. Professor Prior has also written Churchill's 'World Crisis' as History.
The Somme is published by Yale University Press (New Haven and London).
Story by Howard Salkow