La guerre souterraine - Review
TRIOLET, Jérôme and Laurent, 2011
La Guerre Souterraine [Underground War]
Librairie Académique Perrin 337 pp [ISBN 978-2-262-03590-7]
Brothers Jérôme and Laurent Triolet have been researching underground structures for over 25 years. Most of their work to date has covered sites in France – much of it published in Subterranea, the publication of SFES, our ‘sister’ French society. This new volume looks worldwide at the way in which underground space has been used in warfare. The sites described are primarily those which have acted as shelters, with a particular focus on sites where concealment has been a key factor. Although spaces used by both civilians and the military are included, protected positions such as gun emplacements and military command centres are not generally covered. The book covers a wide range of periods although some eras (perhaps most notably World War II) are omitted.
Each type of site has a chapter to itself – following a timeline from 8th century underground ‘cities’ in Cappadocia to current day examples in the Lebanon and Palestine. The intriguing muches in northern France visited on a number of Sub Brit trips are well covered, along with more contemporary conflicts in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Nineteenth century mining and counter-mining are well covered, as are the World War I excavations of the Western Front. The ability of an underground structure to provide shelter as well as the base for attacks on the enemy are common themes. In some cases the occupants have been able to fight against aggressors with huge technical superiority with great success.
The book is in French throughout and its many references are again mostly but not entirely of French publications. There is no index and the contents page is, unexpectedly for those used to English books, at the end of the volume. There are a couple of dozen or so colour photographs and some useful maps and plans and this splendid volume is strongly recommended to those with a good grasp of French. For those with less fluency we are looking at the possibility of inviting Jérôme or Laurent to a future Sub Brit Day Meeting, to present their fascinating research in our mother tongue.
Martin Dixon, Subterranea, The magazine of Subterranea Britannica, August 2012 Issue 30