EDMONDS, James Edward, Brigadier-General et al.

Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1914- … 1918.

History of the Great War based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence.

London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1925-48 Stock Code: 138325
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"a quarry of facts"

All but the first volume are first editions, that being a second impression, although styled the Second Edition. The jacket on this volume and its accompanying map case are for the third edition. An genuinely extraordinary set, odd volumes in jackets turn up, particularly the commoner earlier ones, to find a complete run of the text volumes would be quite a challenge, but the presence here of the sleeves on the eight map cases considerably raises the bar. Assembled over thirty years, with intent and opportunity, this would be a difficult task indeed to repeat today.

A mammoth undertaking, nearly a quarter of a century in the making, Edmond's compilation was subject to criticism from the very beginning. Commenting on the volume covering the German Spring Offensive of 1918, Liddell Hart remarked, "What one is given is a purely Trade Union point of view - it is not merely 'Patriotic' history but parochial history", it was "official" but not "history" (a letter to Edmonds quoted in Bond, The First World War and British Military History, pp.69-70). But others have been more sympathetic to the difficulties that he faced, and perhaps more measured in their assessment of the how such a project can retain value over time. Falls marvels at Edmonds's skills of compression, having "to weigh every word, often to make a sentence do the work of a paragraph, generally to keep clear of episodic bypaths which would have given greater effect to his work. The result is certainly no reading for the idle-minded or the hasty, but it is a monument to skill, patience, and military knowledge". While in a more recent appraisal David French remarks that while "many of Edmond's interpretations have been challenged by later historians none of them can be dismissed out of hand. And Edmonds must be given credit for his determination not to trust naïvely to the documents but to try to cross-check the written record by corresponding with or interviewing as many survivors as he could reach. His industry meant that he produced a quarry of facts which historians are still able to mine with profit to this day". (Bond, p.86). A remarkable set of the foundational text for any study of the British effort on the Western Front.

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Octavo. 26 volumes, including book-style map cases, red cloth, title gilt to spines, all retaining dust jackets or sleeves.


Profusely illustrated throughout, numerous maps to text volumes and in the map cases.


Light rubbing and spotting to the cloth, some browning to the text blocks, the jackets and sleeves variably rubbed, a few chips and splits, but overall a miraculously preserved set.


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