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Challenge of Battle
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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.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Maps List of Images Introduction Prologue: First Blood PART ONE: ADVANCE TO BATTLE 1 Opening the War Book 2 Across the Channel 3 The March to Mons 4 The Kaiser's Army 5 Encounter at Mons PART TWO: THE GREAT RETREAT 6 Disengagement 7 Le Cateau: the Decision to Fight 8 Le Cateau: the Defeat 9 Failures of Command 10 The Retreat Continues PART THREE: FROM THE MARNE TO THE AISNE 11 Turn of the Tide 12 Battle on the Aisne: Assault 13 Battle on the Aisne: Entrenchment PART FOUR: DECISION AT YPRES 14 The Opening Moves 15 Storm over Ypres 16 Battle in the South 17 Ypres: the Test Epilogue: Death of the Old Army Appendix A: BEF Order of Battle 1914 Appendix B: British Army Organization Acknowledgements Source Notes Bibliography Index Source Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

A magisterial account of the British Army at war in 1914, weaving together poignant first-hand accounts from soldiers on the frontline together with a detailed analysis of the strategies employed by the High Command.

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 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. He also runs a military history book-review site: www.warbooksreview.com. His website can be found at www.adrian-gilbert.co.uk.

Reviews

"Well-written and carefully argued, 'Challenge of Battle' clearly describes the initial battles of WWI in graphic detail and begins what promises to be a major reappraisal of the British army in 1914." --Bowling Green Daily News "Gilbert's measured, balanced analysis of the British Expeditionary Force's performance in the first months of World War I presents the Old Contemptibles as they were." --Professor Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel: Men Of War in the Twentieth Century Well-written and carefully argued, 'Challenge of Battle' clearly describes the initial battles of WWI in graphic detail and begins what promises to be a major reappraisal of the British army in 1914. "Bowling Green Daily News" Gilbert's measured, balanced analysis of the British Expeditionary Force's performance in the first months of World War I presents the Old Contemptibles as they were. "Professor Dennis Showalter, author of Patton and Rommel: Men Of War in the Twentieth Century"" "Well-written and carefully argued, 'Challenge of Battle' clearly describes the initial battles of WWI in graphic detail and begins what promises to be a major reappraisal of the British army in 1914."" --Bowling Green Daily News" "Gilbert s measured, balanced analysis of the British Expeditionary Force s performance in the first months of World War Ipresents the Old Contemptibles as they were." --Professor Dennis Showalter, author of "Patton and Rommel: Men Of War in the Twentieth Century " Praise forAdrian Gilbert s other 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" "" [a] fascinating study of the prisoner of war experience. Professor Gary Sheffield, "Military Illustrated" "The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War"" " A vivid, vital history. "Sunday Times" Lucid narrative of operations superb illustrations. Philip Warner, "Daily Telegraph" A familiar story, re-told from a series of new angles much fresh, illuminating detail. Professor M.R.D. Foot, "Good Book Guide" "Sniper One-on-One The World of Combat Sniping" A comprehensive account of the occupation as it is carried out today, complete with a guide to the best weapons for the task. Robert Fox, "Daily Telegraph " Speaking as a professional sniper with service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, I do have to say this book is one of the best. 5/5 "Review Index.co.uk"" 'Gilbert's measured, balanced analysis of the British Expeditionary Force's performance in the first months of World War I presents the Old Contemptibles as they were.' --Professor Dennis Showalter, author of "Patton and Rommel: Men Of War in the Twentieth Century " Praise for Adrian Gilbert's other 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" " " '[a] fascinating study of the prisoner of war experience.' - Professor Gary Sheffield, "Military Illustrated" "The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War""" 'A vivid, vital history.' - "Sunday Times" 'Lucid narrative of operations ... superb illustrations.' - Philip Warner, "Daily Telegraph" 'A familiar story, re-told from a series of new angles ... much fresh, illuminating detail.' - Professor M.R.D. Foot, "Good Book Guide" "Sniper One-on-One - The World of Combat Sniping" 'A comprehensive account of the occupation as it is carried out today, complete with a guide to the best weapons for the task.' - Robert Fox, "Daily Telegraph " 'Speaking as a professional sniper with service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, I do have to say this book is one of the best. 5/5' - "Review Index.co.uk" Praise for Adrian Gilbert's other 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" " " '[a] fascinating study of the prisoner of war experience.' - Professor Gary Sheffield, "Military Illustrated" "The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War""" 'A vivid, vital history.' - "Sunday Times" 'Lucid narrative of operations ... superb illustrations.' - Philip Warner, "Daily Telegraph" 'A familiar story, re-told from a series of new angles ... much fresh, illuminating detail.' - Professor M.R.D. Foot, "Good Book Guide" "Sniper One-on-One - The World of Combat Sniping" 'A comprehensive account of the occupation as it is carried out today, complete with a guide to the best weapons for the task.' - Robert Fox, "Daily Telegraph " 'Speaking as a professional sniper with service in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, I do have to say this book is one of the best. 5/5' - "Review Index.co.uk"

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