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Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of…

de Peter Hart

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691308,006 (4.5)1
"The dramatic opening weeks of the Great War passed into legend long before the conflict ended. The British Expeditionary Force fought a mesmerizing campaign, outnumbered and outflanked but courageous and skillful, holding the line against impossible odds, sacrificing themselves to stop the last great German offensive of 1914. A remarkable story of high hopes and crushing disappointment culminates in the climax of the First Battle of Ypres. And yet, as Peter Hart shows in this look at the war's first year, for too long the British part in the 1914 campaigns has been veiled in layers of self-congratulatory myth: a tale of unprepared Britain, reliant on the peerless class of her regular soldiers to bolster the rabble of the unreliable French Army and defeat the teeming hordes of German troops. But the reality of those early months is in fact far more complex-and ultimately, Hart argues, far more powerful than the standard triumphalist narrative. Fire and Movement places the British role in 1914 into a proper historical context, incorporating the personal experiences of the men who were present on the front lines. The British regulars were indeed skillful soldiers, Hart writes, courageous and adaptable in the near-impossible circumstances in which they found themselves. But they also lacked practice in many of the required disciplines of modern warfare. Hart also offers a more accurate portrait of the German Army they faced--not the caricature of hordes of automatons, but the reality of a well-trained and superlatively equipped force that outfought the BEF in the early battles--and allows readers to come to a full appreciation of the role of the French Army, which has often been marginalized"--Provided by publisher.… (més)
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A very good telling of the story of the BEF, with the focus being on respectfully, but firmly, debunking the polite stories that the British tell themselves about their early participation in World War I; particularly when it comes to playing up just how much of an impact that Britain had in 1914. However, Hart also emphasizes that if the battle Mons was not all that, the first battle of Ypres was, and emphasizes the rise of Haig as the British field commander on the Western Front. About the only point that I have to mark down this book for is that though I appreciate Hart's efforts to let the participants speak for themselves (as you'd expect from the Imperial War Museum's in-house oral historian), there are times when you'd like more narrative and a little less first-person accounting. ( )
  Shrike58 | Mar 14, 2015 |
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"The dramatic opening weeks of the Great War passed into legend long before the conflict ended. The British Expeditionary Force fought a mesmerizing campaign, outnumbered and outflanked but courageous and skillful, holding the line against impossible odds, sacrificing themselves to stop the last great German offensive of 1914. A remarkable story of high hopes and crushing disappointment culminates in the climax of the First Battle of Ypres. And yet, as Peter Hart shows in this look at the war's first year, for too long the British part in the 1914 campaigns has been veiled in layers of self-congratulatory myth: a tale of unprepared Britain, reliant on the peerless class of her regular soldiers to bolster the rabble of the unreliable French Army and defeat the teeming hordes of German troops. But the reality of those early months is in fact far more complex-and ultimately, Hart argues, far more powerful than the standard triumphalist narrative. Fire and Movement places the British role in 1914 into a proper historical context, incorporating the personal experiences of the men who were present on the front lines. The British regulars were indeed skillful soldiers, Hart writes, courageous and adaptable in the near-impossible circumstances in which they found themselves. But they also lacked practice in many of the required disciplines of modern warfare. Hart also offers a more accurate portrait of the German Army they faced--not the caricature of hordes of automatons, but the reality of a well-trained and superlatively equipped force that outfought the BEF in the early battles--and allows readers to come to a full appreciation of the role of the French Army, which has often been marginalized"--Provided by publisher.

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