Nick Lloyd is a talented historian, and there is much to admire in this book. It is solidly based on recent scholarship and primary sources. He gives a very clear description of the various phases of the Western Front fighting. These were complex operations, and so this is no small achievement. Moreover, Lloyd has a good eye for a quotation. He neatly captures the problems of inexperienced American troops in the Argonne fighting in 1918, by quoting a young Doughboy who viewed the carnage: “They’d pushed in with the same spirit as Pickett’s brigade at Gettysburg and with about the same results”. Lloyd deserves plaudits for avoiding an anglocentric view. The German Army gets good coverage, and, building on the work of scholars such as Elizabeth Greenhalgh and Robert Doughty, the French Army gets its fair share of attention. The French, as Lloyd shows, bore the burden of the fighting on the Western Front between August 1914 and July 1916 and played an extremely significant role thereafter.
In many ways, The Western Front is an impressive achievement. It will, I am sure, become the standard narrative account, and deserves a wide readership. But I was left wishing that the author had been more ambitious.