By Paul Reed
Pen & Sword, 2017
This book was first published in 1999 as ‘Walking the Salient’; in the ensuing 18 years much has changed on the sites of the former battlefields around Ypres, and this revised edition will be welcomed by those who want to explore the ‘immortal salient’. Paul Reed himself needs little introduction. A historian of the First World War and a visitor to the battlefields since his youth, he is well-known to most students of the war.
The format of the book remains the same, with each chapter covering a different route. Two new chapters cover walks to Potijze and Langemarck. Clear maps show the key points of the routes and the stops, and details of the length will also assist the reader when selecting a route; some of the walks can also be combined to form a longer excursion.
Each walk combines the route instructions with a narrative setting out the context of what can be seen and the course of events in that area. Combined with this are the stories of some of the individuals involved, which not only personalises the events being described but also gives the reader names that can be sought out and remembered at the memorials and cemeteries that are encountered. Naturally there are many fantastic images accompanying the text, many from Paul’s personal collection, as well as a new section of colour photographs, including a few of sites that no longer exist. This does however mean that the book is slightly bulkier and heavier than the previous edition, although not enough to be a noticeable burden when out walking!
With four years of fighting around Ypres there are a plethora of sites that can be visited, however Paul Reed manages to pick a selection that highlight the key events and places in the salient and give a well-rounded view of the course of the war in the area. It will certainly be a book that I pack on my future trips to the battlefields.
Buy this book from Amazon here:
Walking Ypres (Battleground I)