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Challenge of Battle: The Real Story of the British Army in 1914by Adrian Gilbert
Synopses & Reviews
The British Expeditionary Force heroically stopped Kaiser Wilhelm's Imperial Germany in the battle of the Meuse at the start of World War I, but the true story of their battles is clouded by the propaganda of the time.
Winston Churchill described the opening campaign of the First World War as 'a drama never surpassed'. The titanic clash of Europe's armies in 1914 is one the great stories of 20th-century history, and one in which the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) played a hugely significant role.
The pride in the British Army's achievements was reflected in the Official History, but its account of the fighting was understandably reticent about its shortcomings. What was more surprising, however, was the way in which the Official History set the template for succeeding accounts of the campaign, which tamely accepted its conclusions with little or no attempt at critical engagement.
This work will clear away the layers of sentiment that have obscured a true historical appreciation of the British Army's opening campaign in the West. For the first time, the reader will be given a complete picture of the BEF at war, illustrating both failings and successes. It will describe how British commanders were forced to come to terms with the fearsome nature of modern warfare, as its soldiers returned to Europe to fight a first-rate opponent for the first time in nearly 100 years. The book will feature first-hand accounts that illustrate important elements of the battles, whether a heroic defensive action or a unit breaking under pressure, alongside an examination of the BEF's leadership, organization, tactics, and weapons, and an assessment of how the regular soldiers of 1914 differed from the volunteers and conscripts that follwed, and how their first allegiance was not to crown and country but to comrades and regiment.
Adrian Gilbert is a military historian with a special interest in 20th-century warfare. Among his books are POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe 1939–45; The Foreign Legion in it Own Words; the best-selling Sniper: One-on One and The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War, the latter volume part of a series that won the Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature. His website can be found at: www.adrian-gilbert.co.uk
About the Author
Adrian Gilbert's recent books include Voices of the French Foreign Legion (2009) and POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe, 1939-1945 (2006) - named by The Sunday Times as a top ten military book of the year. Four other titles have been 'main selections' for the Military and Aviation Book Society, and his book on sniping has sold over 100,000 mass-market paperback copies in the US. He has contributed to TV documentaries and written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, Guardian, Good Book Guide, and Gramophone.
Reviews of some of Adrian Gilbert's books:
POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe, 1939-1945
'Gilbert is to be congratulated; with verve and scholarship he has illuminated a murky area of the war ... [an] excellent history.' - Ian Thomson, Daily Telegraph
'Captured: the real spirit of the POW camps ... a big subject here given a comprehensive and worthwhile examination.' - Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
'Adrian Gilbert's comprehensive history is a sobering corrective to the Hollywood version' - Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
[a] fascinating study of the prisoner of war experience.' - Professor Gary Sheffield, Military Illustrated
'Sheds new light on a unique group of men ... and highlights some of the extraordinary stories to come out of captivity.... Compelling.' - Soldier Magazine The author lives in United Kingdom.
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History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History