Book Review – Liaison 1914, a Narrative of the Great Retreat

B2181

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This is a substantial work, fluently written and well-supported by maps and very strong photo plate section. The foreword by Winston Churchill, who became a life long friend of the author, sets the context of the work. This is one book of WWI that no enthusiast can afford to be without, also a firm foundation for historians.

There are so many lessons in this book that it should become essential reading for school children in Britain and France. It also provides a foundation for understanding the land war through to victory in 1918. To highly commend this work is barely adequate to its value.

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Book Review – A French Soldier’s War Diary 1914-1918

B2180

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Very little has been published in the English language about the French experiences in the Great War. This is a great shame because the BEF and the French divisions fought closely together and it was their co-operation that avoided early defeat and won eventual victory. This book is an account by a French officer that was first published in French in 1971. A flowing translation has brought this fascinating story to English language readers.

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Book Review – 1914, They Were There!, Memories of the Great War 1914-1918 by Those Who Experienced It

B2179

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With so many books being released as part of the centenary celebrations, and with most of them achieving a high standard, it can be very difficult for a reader to select to suit his or her tastes and interests. This book stands out because it has a fine selection of images and sharp text that presents a series of snapshots across the full range of the war in Europe. It is ideal for those readers who know little of the Great War because it is a great introduction. It is also valuable book for the enthusiast and the knowledgable because its scope covers all of the aspects of the Great War that might have been missed.

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Book Review – A Story of the Great War, Before Action, William Noel Hodgson and the 9th Devons

B2178

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The author has established a formidable catalogue of books and contributions to radio and television, with a special interest in the Great War. In this new book, she draws on the writings and unpublished letters of Hodgson, who has been best remembered for his poetry. This has enabled a recreation of a volunteer battalion and its commitment to violent battle at Loos, where Hodgson won the Military Cross. This is a moving story and encapsulates life in the BEF on the Western Front.

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Book Review – Despatches from the Front, The Royal Navy and the War At Sea, 1914-1919

B2176

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This series of books provides primary source material in the form of correspondence home and official documents sent back by commanders. This book is ably introduced and compiled, providing a very interesting set of views of the war at sea. There is a strong photo plate section that features extended captions and will appeal to many readers who may not take WWI naval history as a first choice. Historians, enthusiasts and naval professions will value the logical and clear layout.

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Book Review – Byng of Vimy, General and Governor General

B2175

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The author has written what must be regarded as the definitive biography of an effective soldier and Governor General who was highly regarded by those who served with him but who was also controversial and not regarded with as much favour by the Establishment. Those interested in WWI generally, and the land battle of the Western Front in particular, will greatly enjoy this biography, but it will also appeal to those with interests in politics, the Empire, Canada and statehood. The writing style is engaging and the illustrations add greatly to the book’s interest.

The reader will not only enjoy the book and its excellent supporting illustrations, but gain fresh insights into all of the places, people, conditions and politics touched beneficially by Byng. A Great Read!!

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Book Review – The Biography of Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, in Search of the Better ‘Ole

B2174

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The authors founded a Battlefield Tours company in 1978. They ran this successful company until some twenty years ago when they sold up to concentrate on writing. Given their experience in guiding visitors around the WWI battlefields of the Western Front, it is perhaps unsurprising that they should write some of the most informative and popular guide books. They have also written about related topics, including an acclaimed series of military biographies. Their biography of Rudyard Kipling’s son John was sensitive and moving, as were their biographies of Poets of the Great War. During this research, writing, and collection of postcards of the period, they came across the fascinating story of Bruce Bairnsfather and this book provides a unique review of his sketches and cartoons. This is an absorbing story and will appeal to a wide range of readers because of the scope of the topics.

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Book Review – Battle Lines, The Western Frontby Car by Bike and On Foot, The Retreat From Mons 1914: South, Etreux to the Marne

B2173

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A valuable addition to an excellent series that provides the history, the background and the current environment of the start of a terrible conflict, where British arms produced a form of victory from what seemed inevitable defeat, as the tiny BEF battled a very much larger German force. The book provides a first class guide for all those who wish to know more about the events and the people and who may intend to visit the battlefields.

This book is highly commended and will satisfy a range of readers.

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Book Review – Over The Top, Alternative Histories of the First World War

B2172

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It is never easy to classify this type of book because it is based on non-fiction but provides what is a fictional alternative history. The approach is entirely valid because history is a series of events that only produced their final story as a series of factors and decisions came together against a background of other events, the local terrain, and the weather. Any small variation in one of perhaps hundreds of elements could have produced an entirely different outcome and shaped a whole series of subsequent events. The text offers some credible alternatives to what actually happened and is based on careful research. There are some good images in the photo plate section and the book will appeal to both the enthusiast and the general reader.

This book provides some credible and compelling alternatives, based on wartime plans and events. A provoking new look at what might have been.

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