I recently purchased Trench Warfare 1850-1950 by Anthony Saunders. I know of no other book that covers the topic over this span of time. We all know about the American Civil War and its premonitions of the Western Front trench works in its later stages, e.g. before Petersburg. Also, I was struck when reading the Memoirs of Lord Wolseley by his depiction of the fighting before Sebastopol during the Crimean War, and how much it sounded like World War I.
Upon receiving the book, I opened it at random and found this:
The quality of the British trenches varied according to which battalion had been responsible for their original construction and the attitude to trench maintenance of those who came afterward. One aspect that was universal in the early days was was uniformity and neatness, much prized initially as evidence of soldierly bearing and professionalism. Uniformity and neatness were soon discovered to be the worst possible qualities in an entrenchment. Indeed, they came to symbolize inexperience and lack of skill in trench fighting. Such trenches were killers because even the slightest movement or change that broke the neat orderliness were instantly seen; and German snipers soon learned the locations in the Allied trenches where men were careless. Almost from the start of trench warfare, German snipers made British parapets dangerous places for the unwary and they took a steady toll of the incautious. Ideally, trenches not only blended into their surroundings, but the parapet was disordered, uneven and camouflaged, all of this designed to hide the location of the trench and prevent movement in it from being noticed. There are few straight lines of the sort so favoured by peace-time sergeant-majors to be found in nature. Such military orderliness had no place in the trenches of the Western Front.
Nicely put. It appears I am in good authorial hands.