• Passchendaele

  • Requiem for Doomed Youth
  • By: Paul Ham
  • Narrated by: Robert Meldrum
  • Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)
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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.

Information: 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

Critic Reviews

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

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  • Jordan61
  • 07-22-17

100 years on

Paul Ham is everything Other populist amateur historians and authors are not - accurate, respectful, a defender of truth and fact. In these days of alternative facts and fake gloss he doesn't try and paint over the raw experience to build some portrait of our nation's soldiers as being without fault. Rather he portrays the full panoply of their experience....the lows the triumphs and the impact acts on us all even now 100 years on.

My Great uncle died aged 20 with the Anzac attack on 4 October 1917 first day of the Battle of Broodseinde so dramatically described in this book.

A journey back in time I will not forget

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  • Lee
  • 07-28-17

Riveting

What a well researched, well presented book. A must read for history buffs. Gives some great insights

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  • John
  • 12-08-16

Faultless

Amazing writing and excellent performance. As an already huge fan of the time period, Ham took my interest to new heights with his insightful and emotional count of those who lived that nightmare. Highly recommended!

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  • David Martinussen
  • 12-24-19

Passchendale: A truly remarkable book

I’ve read many narratives on WWI. ‘Passchendale’ by Paul Ham, in my view, is simply without peer, for its insight and readability.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-08-19

A tragic history.

Paul Ham has brilliantly explained the tragedy of the battle from every view point.

A extremely well researched and written balanced history.

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  • David
  • 01-09-17

moving and eyeopening

its difficult to believe that all those men were sent to the most unimaginable slaughter by incompetant, arrogant racists!