This is a very important book which should interest all who wish to know more about one of the most devastating weapons of 20th century warfare: the machine gun. Although mainly concerned with the role of the weapon during the Great War, Lt. Col. Hutchinson devotes space to explaining how the machine gun evolved from ancient times. There are chapters, too, on the Gatling Gun, the prototype machine gun much favoured in 19th century colonial wars, and on Hiram Maxim, the cheerfully amoral inventor who can plausibly be called the father of the modern machine gun. In discussing the role of the machine gun on the western front, the author does not hide the early advantage enjoyed by the Germans who had far more of the weapons per head than the British. Nor does he attempt to hide the horrendous toll taken by the German machine gunners on what may have been the weapon’s bloodiest and most successful day: the decimation of the British advance on July 1st, 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme. But Hutchinson shows how the British learned from their errors and caught up with the Germans in using the gun and devising new tactics for it. Nor does the author neglect the use of the gun in other theatres : Italy, the Balkans and the Middle East. A well-written, sober and informative account, packed with detail and fascinating information. With fifteen photographs and many maps.