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A damming account of a military disaster

Gallipoli - Peter Hart

Peter Hart's account of the Allied attempt to force the Dardanelles during the First World War is a passionate and damming account of a military disaster. From the very first sentence he condemns the campaign as "a lunacy that never could have succeeded, an idiocy generated by muddled thinking," and the rest of his book describes that lunacy in all of its horrors. It's a very British-centric account that, while describing the Australian, New Zealand, and French contributions to the campaign, doesn't fully acknowledge the role Ottoman policy played in shaping the conflict. What it does address is the war from the perspective of the troops who fought it, and here Hart displays his mastery in employing soldiers' accounts to give a sense of the bloody and futile nature of combat on the peninsula, where the fatal bravery of their officers often deprived their men of the leadership they needed in battle. The sheer weight of these accounts makes Hart's point about the futility of the campaign, one that ultimately ended with little to show for the bloodletting other than grieving families and ruined careers.