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on July 22, 2002
Anything Moorehead wrote was golden, but this is arguably one of his best books. This has been reissued numerous times and it remains a classic. It is particularly good in its description of of the initial naval campaign and the general strategic overview. Although Gallipoli has rightly served as the emblematic battle where it is popularly thought that ANZACS were unduly sacrificed by the British in attempts at vainglory, Moorehead would be the first to acknowledge that there is no evidence that Australians were selected for slaughter over any other troops. The British (and most World War I strategist from all nations) were equal opportunity killers. In reality there were many more British troops committed, and killed, than ANZAC troops, and French losses were also considerable. Moreover the strategic aims were laudable. They were very nearly achieved. The bungling was not in the design, but in the fact that it was allowed to continue long after the jig was up, the British contained on the Penninsula, without a faint hope of forcing the straits with naval power. Moorehead, although an Australian, never bashes the British at all in this book. His exposition of Sir Ian Hamilton is also very incisive and offers a real glimpse into the mind of this man (a commander who felt for his troops, more than most in WWI) The fact that he was sacked, never to wield command in the field, is also testament to the fact that mistakes were made. Churchill's role is less clear. His initial idea was brilliant. He also did not want to commit land troops, thinking it too costly. He believed that the Royal Navy and her allies could force the straits and be shelling Constantinople within days.... And they very nearly did it. Unfortunately as Moorehead recounts, the political pressure of losing large, expensive battleships to mines was a price the British Cabinet would not allow Churchill to indulge and the pressure for a land based campaign therefore rose. It is really a pity because Churchill wanted one more chance to force the straits from the sea. There is every indication that he would have been successful and the costly land war averted. Plus ca change for Churchill.

PS: The cover photograph in this edition actually shows Canadian troops going over the top in a latter Somme Battle. Seems they could have easily found some original British or French pictures from Gallipoli itself??! I guess cover art was more important.
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on April 19, 2000
I first read this text at age 19 in 1960 and was most impressed with its narrative skill and ability to bring to life the historical characters involved. I have since reread it and remain satisfied with Mr Moorehead's ability to make the events vivid and touching. I was especially impressed with his re-enactment of the actual landing, the incredible amount of equipment the youngsters had to carry, the reason the ships remained so distant from shore (afraid of touching bottom)the sense of distance those in charge had from the events they were supposed to be controlling, and the tragic sadness of it all. I was also impressed with the amazing courage he described the Turks as having so that the reader is not given the impression that the allies were just "better chaps" than the "Turkish infidel". Now at the close of the fifties in racist Australia at the time of communist and Asian indeed foreign paranoia this was refreshing and somewhat liberal to a young mind. One of the best and most enjoyable reads on World War One.
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on April 30, 2008
Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli is prose at its finest. this is beautifully written, and the scenes of battle come to life, as well as the everyday life of the allied soldier. However this book is now over 50 years old and much new information has come to light, particularly on the Turkish side. Also, many of the battles fought themselves, such as the battles at Krithia, Kum Kale, The Farm, The Nek, etc... on and on, are either completely ignored or scaled down and condensed so that you truly learn nothing about them. For a beginner who wishes to study Gallipoli this book is fine. For its superb writing style and life like narrative this book is superb. However for those wishing to learn the whole story of the Gallipoli battle read Les Carlyon's Gallipoli or Robert Rhodes James Gallipoli. Both of these books are excellent and well written, and both cover far more of the campaign as a whole then does Moorehead's book.
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on June 13, 1999
The book is a well-written, historically accurate portrayal of the campaign. Unfortunately, it tends to stick to narrating the campaign instead of discussing the strategy and decisions behind the moves at Gallipoli. Despite that, the book is authoratative, and a relatively brief but good description of what happened. Somebody from Provo, Utah said that the book didn't talk about the Turks, but that isn't true. Of the many books written on the campaign, it is the one book that talks MOST of the Turks, with about every other chapter dedicated to the Turkish side of the campaign. Many other books don't write about the Turkish side at all, and much of my research about the opposing forces came from this book.
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on April 22, 2008
I picked this book up after reading The Guns of August by Tuchman; but the real impetus to investigate the battle of Gallipoli goes back to my visit to Istanbul last summer. I will explain why shortly.

Alan Morehead published this novel in 1956, over halfway between the event and this review. His view on this WWI battle had adequate distance to compare it to the European battles for the three decades after, but retains a trace of British late-imperial irony. All the rationales for the ambiphibious assualt in Turkey are explained, and even the chapters which describe the inconclusive fighting are not widely foreshadowed- I was particularly spellbound by the suspense of the final days as the British and ANZAC forces retreated by sea. I also caught a fascinating glimpse at WWI submarine warfare, the early demise of Winston Churchill, and an eerie warning of Mustafa Kemal's rise to power. Morehead makes the right connections to people/events beyond the Dardanelles without losing focus on the landings. He tends to weight the British side of things, but the reader's interest also lies with the offense. No doubt his access to Turkish military records was limited.

As for Istanbul, I met not a few Kiwis and Aussies there who were making a pilgrimage of sorts to the battleground, half a world away from home. While I was trapsing through the city, they took the excursion into the countryside to see... the location of one of the greatest battles their nation ever fought. I wanted to see what moved them to make the trek, and this book explains it. I wouldn't call it a poignant evocation of a tragic front, events can speak for themselves. Yet this book enhanced my appreciation of a battle that I didn't know much about. I recommend Gallipoli to those who are curious about this oddest of struggles, but I especially recommend it to you who haven't even heard of the place. It deserves our attention.
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on May 23, 2007
This is THE definitive work on the horror which was the Gallipoli invasion. The tragic story has been told and retold, but this book written in 1956 tells it best. During WWI Britain tried to knock Turkey out of the war and reinforce Russia by forcing the Dardenelles with battleships. The campaign was 'sold" on the basis that it would not require major ground forces. They nearly succeeded with the naval assault but lost their nerve and withdrew. They then decided to try again with Australian and Commonwealth troops in one of the largest bungled amphibious assaults in modern history. The battle degenerated into complete chaos as both sides fought to exhaustion. Months went by, there were tens of thousands of casualties and no end in sight. Again and again the British forces nearly won. And defeated themselves due to incompetent leadership. Winston Churchill, Lord Fisher, Lord Kitchener, all failed miserably in a crazy quilt of asinine decisions and wishful thinking. And the Turkish leadership wasn't any better. Finally after yet another failed landing the British abandoned the effort and withdrew, much lost and absolutely nothing gained. The author succeeds in painting the surreal landscape and bringing home the futile horror of the battlefield and the near total destruction of the mainly Australian army, totally in vain as the leaders hemmed and hawed, argued and dithered.

Anyone familiar with the term "REMF" will fully understand what went wrong. This is a vital piece of history, well worth reading, studying and remembering so we don't make the same mistakes again.
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on August 5, 2015
For a book published in 1956, and despite many other books on Gallipoli, including several fine ones published for the 100th anniversary in 2015, this is a very good account, offering fascinating details that other accounts I've read have omitted. Such as the degree of the success of the Allied submarine campaign in the Sea of Marmara (many accounts confine themselves to Stoker's AE2 exploit in encouraging Ian Hamilton to refuse the evacuation of Anzac Cove on the first day of the invasion April 25.

And the atmosphere in Istanbul after the repulse of the Allied fleet from the Narrows on March 18, and its role in precipitating the Armenian genocide.

It's a very good book, rather literary in tone, which manages to give an excellent impression of the atmosphere and mood of the campaign, if not the actual battles.
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on November 25, 2015
Most informative...Moorehead brings the central characters to life on ALL sides. The telling was a tad bit dry though, and dated as well. Much new information has surfaced since the book's publishing date in the fifties. Still...a worthwhile place to start.
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on June 12, 2015
Interesting explanation about how Churchill made a major mistake early in his career. The book is actually a good explanation of the situation leading into WWI.
A little too much detail about the personal lives of the persons involved for my liking though. Almost like a romance novel.
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on March 13, 2014
I visited many cemeteries and memorials in Gallipoli/Turkey about five (5) years ago when I travelled in Turkey. I was deeply moved by what I viewed, particularly, the inscriptions on the grave markers. Friends from Australia were moved to genuine tears, and some of the inscriptions were very, very sad such as "My son, my only child" by "Mother" for her 19 year old son lost/killed in Churchill's war, yes, and few people know. I, too, felt my eyes water in sympathy...Life can be and was brutal - a truly sad time for both sides. How Churchill's war/decision could be lost in history is an grave reminder that political types are not what a voter may believe without factual investigation to become a literate voter. I sought to find a book that told the story in the trenches - it did.
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