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Passchendaele Audiobook

Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth

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Publisher's Summary

From Paul Ham, winner of the NSW Premier's Prize for Australian History, comes the story of ordinary men in the grip of a political and military power struggle that determined their fate and has foreshadowed the destiny of the world for a century.

Passchendaele epitomises everything that was most terrible about the Western Front. The photographs never sleep of this four-month battle, fought from July to November 1917, the worst year of the war: blackened tree stumps rising out of a field of mud, corpses of men and horses drowned in shell holes, terrified soldiers huddled in trenches awaiting the whistle.

The intervening century, the most violent in human history, has not disarmed these pictures of their power to shock. At the very least they ask us, on the 100th anniversary of the battle, to see and to try to understand what happened here. Yes, we commemorate the event. Yes, we adorn our breasts with poppies. But have we seen? Have we understood? Have we dared to reason why? What happened at Passchendaele was the expression of the 'wearing-down war', the war of pure attrition at its most spectacular and ferocious.

Paul Ham's Passchendaele: Requiem for Doomed Youth shows how ordinary men on both sides endured this constant state of siege, with a very real awareness that they were being gradually, deliberately, wiped out. Yet the men never broke: they went over the top, when ordered, again and again and again. And if they fell dead or wounded, they were casualties in the 'normal wastage', as the commanders described them, of attritional war. Only the soldier's friends at the front knew him as a man, with thoughts and feelings. His family back home knew him as a son, husband or brother, before he had enlisted. By the end of 1917 he was a different creature: his experiences on the Western Front were simply beyond their powers of comprehension.

The audiobook tells the story of ordinary men in the grip of a political and military power struggle that determined their fate and has foreshadowed the destiny of the world for a century. Passchendaele lays down a powerful challenge to the idea of war as an inevitable expression of the human will, and examines the culpability of governments and military commanders in a catastrophe that destroyed the best part of a generation.

©2016 Paul Ham, Produced by arrangement with Penguin Random House Australia Pty Ltd (P)2016 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What the Critics Say

"Provocative and challenging.... A voice that is both vigorous and passionate." (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.8 (46 )
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  •  
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 11-25-16
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 11-25-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Very compelling - good story, good narration"

    Like many I am sure, I have read + listened to a lot of World War ! and World War 2 books. Not sure why I chose this book ( somewhat on impulse) as, of late, I have "moved" out of these two eras in search of other histories - Napoleon, Rome, American Civil War etc. But I ended up being enthralled ( engaged) with "Passchendaele". Mr Ham is an excellent story teller, both about the leaders ( Lloyd -George, Haig) and the war as experienced by "ordinary soldiers". His writing is clear, precise, opinionated ( in a good way) and ( at times) moving.

    As a Canadian, I am embarrassed to say I knew little about Passchendaele ( this, along with Vimy Ridge, is considered a battle in which the Canadians stood out ( and stood apart from the British for a change) and Mr Ham does a good job in outlining their role. Although notionally told from an "Aussie" viewpoint, "Passchendaele" is really about this one senseless battle in the context of the whole war ( the latter which he explains in background as we proceed)

    Mr Meldrums narration added to my enjoyment.

    An excellent book

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Collins 01-05-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Passchendaele"

    Five stars are not enough, wish now I could visit these hallowed grounds to pay my respects in person.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LittleBee 09-28-17
    LittleBee 09-28-17 Member Since 2015
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    "story quite touching and horrifying"

    the lessons of war are constantly forgotten. this book examines the cost of wars of attrition and the particular horror of trench warfare. The narration is wonderful and the tone is heartfelt.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 09-21-17
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 09-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Passchendaele: A Crucial WWI battle."
    If you could sum up Passchendaele in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, detailed description of failed tactics and strategies and homage to the hundreds of thousands of young men courageously following foolish officers.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The details about why certain strategies were unworkable. The descriptions of the gas poisonings were horrific but also informative.


    What about Robert Meldrum’s performance did you like?

    Clear diction. However, pace was a bit predictable. Sing song rhythm a bit distracting.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    All the accounts of young men's desperate attempts to survive such unspeakably diabolical circumstances.


    Any additional comments?

    Not for the faint hearted. Graphic, but necessarily so if one wants an accurate understanding of this goliath battle.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick H. 05-22-17
    Nick H. 05-22-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Great insight "

    I just got done reading "a world undone" and wanted to learn more a out passschendaele. this book was an incredible dive into an unbelievable massacre and I would suggest it to anyone

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert F. 10-26-16
    Robert F. 10-26-16
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    "BLAME, GRIEF, SAVED."
    If you could sum up Passchendaele in three words, what would they be?

    WHOM TO BLAME?


    What did you like best about this story?

    PAUL HAM FFORTLESSLY MOVES AMONG THE FRONT LINE SOLDIERS, (BOTH SIDES) GENERAL HAIG, PRIME MINISTER DAVID LLOYD GEORGE AND THE OMNIPRESENT ENEMY, THE GERMANS.


    Have you listened to any of Robert Meldrum’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    SAME GREAT QUALITY AND TONE, IT'S LIKE WATCHING A VERY SAD AND TRAGIC MOVIE.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    GRIEF AT THE TERRIBLE SWAMP OF PAIN AND DEATH AND MUD AND GAS AND GORE OVER SUCH A TENDER, EMOTIONAL NAME, PASSCHENDALELE.


    Any additional comments?

    BLAME. WHOM TO BLAME? CONFRONTED BY TWO ENORMOUS EVENTS, PASSCHENDAELE AND THE ENGLISH BLOCKAGE OF GERMANY, PAUL HAM EVEN HANDEDLY IS ABLE TO EXPLORE THE MORAL UNIVERSE OF BATTLE. IT'S GENERAL HAIG VS DAVID LLOYD GEORGE. PRIME MINISTER DAVID LLOYD GEORGE IS RIGHT .THE SOMME AND PASSCHENDAELE ARE AN UNMITIGAGED DISASTER BY AN INCOMPETENT MORALLY BLIND DONKEY: GENERAL HAIG. GENERAL HAIG .IS RIGHT.:ATTRITION,THE SENSELESS LOSS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUNG ENGLISH, AUSTRALIAN, CANADIAN, AND NEW ZEALAND SOLDIERS WILL WIN THE WORLD WAR 1. HAIG WINS WORLD WAR 1. THESE LIVES ARE MORALLY VINDICATED BY GENERAL HAIG'S ENGLISH VICTORY. THEY DID NOT DIE FOR
    NOTHING. THEIR BEAUTIFUL GREEN LOVELY ISLAND, THIS HOME, ENGLAND WITH THEIR SISTERS, BROTHERS, AND MOMS AND DADS WAS SAVED.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
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  • Thiriar
    3/14/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"
    Would you listen to Passchendaele again? Why?

    A wonderful narration. A vivid account of Passhendaele in it's narrow and broad scoop


    What other book might you compare Passchendaele to, and why?

    The Second World War by Anthony Beevor


    Have you listened to any of Robert Meldrum’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Definitely


    Any additional comments?

    Accessible to all!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Barnybear
    10/20/17
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    "Hear the real tale"

    This is an amazing telling of the travesty if Passchendaele and WW1 in general. Although at times it can be hard to stick with the story, loads and loads of numbers and statistics, it is well worth sticking with it. The story of Passchendaele is well known to many, but the full details and facts are known by few. At times I was reduced to tears at the sheer waste of life and the total lack of humanity by politicians and military leaders on both sides. I would recommend this book to anyone, it totally changed my view of the "Great" war. Passchendaele was 100 years ago, please read or listen to this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • hodge
    9/28/17
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    "Well intentioned but flawed historical account"

    It's a heart felt book on a subject that clearly hits home with the author. That said it's also biased in the extreme in favour of the heroic and badly used dominion troops and the excellence of the German army against the corruption and incompetence of the British. that's not too say that many of his points aren't true and in way does that diminish the effort, bravery and sacrifice of those troops but it does so at the expense of rubbishing Britain's efforts and sacrifices . He comes across like he has a vendetta against the British and therefore he's a bad historian.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William
    8/31/17
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    "incredibly moving"

    I'm not a stranger to history books or ww1, but this book as a perfect balance of narrative and fact. it puts forward an unbiased view of the most terrible parts of human history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jake Krige
    8/8/17
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    Story
    "Moving telling of the disaster of Ypres."

    Any person who is under the impression that a Tory government wouldn't sacrifice the youth of the UK for its narrow political fortunes, should listen to this.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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