Book Review: Trench by Stephen Bull

Trench: A History of Trench Warfare on the Western Front by Stephen Bull. This is a joint publication by Osprey Publishing and the Imperial War Museum, so in addition to being well written it’s lavishly illustrated, with period photographs on every page (the Imperial War Museum being famous for it’s photograph archives), map reproductions, and Osprey’s well known illustrations where needed as well.

trench_cover
The cover of Trench.
Trench is a big coffee-table style book, full colour throughout. The 270-some pages are broken up into ten chapters; the first few are a roughly chronological look at the evolution of trenches in the early part of WW1. The rest are focused on one particular aspect of trench warfare — gas, patrolling, sniping, tanks and armoured vehicles, new weaponry, trench and bunker construction, the evolution of tactics, and so on.

Stephen Bull is well known, and he does well in Trench, with a mix of his own writing, some excerpts from Osprey publications, and frequent bits of period writing, often letters or diary entries from actual front-line soldiers, including translations of French and German material. There are also frequent short articles inside the book focusing on a specific battle or engagement, with discussion of the strategic and tactical significance of this particular engagement and maps, photographs or period writing specific to that engagement.

If you’re interested in the Western Front at all, especially as a subject for wargamers, get yourself a copy of Trench. It’s an excellent mix of written and visual resources; the captions to the various photographs and other visuals are especially well done, instead of being just an afterthought.

Trench: A History of Trench Warfare on the Western Front by Stephen Bull, © 2010 Osprey Publication, in association with the Imperial War Museum.
The Shortest Possible Review: A good introduction to the Western Front of WW1, especially strong on photographs and other visuals

Incidentally, as I write this (Jan. 2013) the Imperial War Museum London is in the middle of a massive renovation/rebuilding effort, which will (among other things) give them a completely rebuilding World War One exhibit before the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 in 2014. They have a fascinating Transforming IWM London blog with lots of articles on what’s involved in renovating a large museum.

(I accidentally published this unedited and incomplete, 24hrs ahead of schedule! Sorry!)

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