Vital little feat in France
men into battle: by July 1918 they were yet to attack the enemy. Pershing was aiming for a victory in 1919.
So the plan by Monash, installed as Australia’s corps commander in May 1918 (despite the campaign against him by war correspondents Charles Bean and Keith Murdoch), was formulated so perfectly and launched at such an absolutely critical juncture that it changed the course of history. Monash’s tactics were replicated in battles led by the Australians that smashed through the German lines in August and September, before finally achieving victory.
Initially, this book disappoints a little. It begins rather bizarrely with a prologue about the sinking of the Lusitania, a well-known event that provides little insight into what follows. It feels at first like a rehash.
The ocker style is laboured in the early chapters, and the ins and outs of the Bean and Murdoch campaign to undermine Monash go on for too long.
But as the narrative gathers momentum towards “Z-Day”, July 4, FitzSimons’s writing tightens up and the story becomes compelling.
It’s significant that this is FitzSimons’s first military history since reuniting with publisher Matthew Kelly of Hachette, who published his phenomenally successful Kokoda. Kelly is a real details man, a firm believer that it’s the nitty-gritty that keeps readers’ eyes glued to every page.
And FitzSimons (along with a small platoon of anonymous researchers) has done a great job of mining the Australian and German archives and a wide range of secondary sources to produce countless nuggets that are woven together to make this a gripping