Michael Lucas has written a cracking book here which must have taken months if not years of painstaking research. For me, to use a hackneyed phrase, this book ticks all of the boxes:
- it is well researched
- it is well-written and hence, readable
- there are extensive notes
- there is a good bibliography
- there are appendices
- there are maps and photographs
All of the above may be blindingly obvious essential requirements for a military historical work of fact and yet it is surprising how many books fall down on one or more of these check-box points. A good researcher may not necessarily make a good author; a good author might be a sloppy researcher, and so on.
The 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment was a New Army battalion and also home to R C Sherriff who would later write Journey's End. The play's title, and a nervous-looking R C Sherriff, appear on the dust-wrapper of this volume.
Unless you're a die-hard 9th East Surrey's historian, you may not want to read the book from cover to cover; apart from anything else, the relentless casualties soon make for depressing reading. Nevertheless, this is a terrific tool for the First World War researcher and it earns a place on my bookshelf because of this. The book is published to the usual high standard we've come to expect from Pen & Sword.