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, the campaign contains moments of sheer horror and nerve-shattering excitement, pathos and comic relief, occasional cowardice and much selfless courage - all culminating in the climax of the First Battle of Ypres. And yet, as Peter Hart shows in this gripping and revisionary 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 poor 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, but as Hart reveals, they also lacked practice in many of the required disciplines of modern warfare, and the inexperience of officers led to severe mistakes. Hart also provides 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 listeners to come to a full appreciation of the role of the French Army, without whom the Marne never would have been won.
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A refreshing Look At The BEF 1914
The story of the B.E.F from it's deployment in August 1914 up to the 1st battle of Eypres and the turn of the year is well known and the subject of a number of books, many of which I have read.
This is a refreshing look at events and places the "BEF story" we are familiar with into context as only part of the much bigger confrontation of much bigger events.
Would recommend this to both those with some knowledge and those looking at the Great War for the first time.
Excellent account, poor delivery
The audiobook was somewhat spoiled for me by the delivery by the narrator. This was especially bad when it came to interpreting the first hand accounts. Poor delivery of English regional accents, sometimes attributed poorly and awful interpretation of French, German accents. I imagine General Foch is turning in his grave at the dreadful Allo Allo style representation of his voice
It is a different account and interpretation of the evidence of the BEF in 1914. There are no rose tinted spectacles and it is very good to have a fresh IWW of it