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1914: Fight the Good Fight: Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War [Paperback]

Allan Mallinson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 29 Aug 2013 --  
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1914: Fight the Good Fight: Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War 1914: Fight the Good Fight: Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War 4.6 out of 5 stars (19)
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Book Description

29 Aug 2013
'No part of the Great War compares in interest with its opening', wrote Churchill. 'The measured, silent drawing together of gigantic forces, the uncertainty of their movements and positions, the number of unknown and unknowable facts made the first collision a drama never surpassed ...in fact the War was decided in the first twenty days of fighting, and all that happened afterwards consisted in battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of fate. 'In this major new history, one of Britain's foremost military historians and defence experts tackles the origins - and the opening first few weeks of fighting - of what would become known as 'the war to end all wars'. Intensely researched and convincingly argued, Allan Mallinson explores and explains the grand strategic shift that occurred in the century before the war, the British Army's regeneration after its drubbings in its fight against the Boer in South Africa, its almost calamitous experience of the first twenty days' fighting in Flanders to the point at which the British Expeditionary Force - the 'Old Contemptibles' - took up the pick and the spade in the middle of September 1914. For it was then that the war changed from one of rapid and brutal movement into the now familiar image of the trenches and the coming of the Territorials, Kitchener's 'Pals', and ultimately the conscripts - and of course the poets. And with them, that terrible sense of the pity and of the futility. Mallinson brings his experience as a professional soldier to bear on the individuals, circumstances and events and the result is a vivid, compelling new history of the beginnings of the Great War that speculates - tantalizingly - on what might have been...


Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (29 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593067614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593067611
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 786,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Allan Mallinson is a former infantry and cavalry officer of thirty-five years' service worldwide. He is the author of the Matthew Hervey series of novels; Light Dragoons, a history of four regiments of British Cavalry, one of which he commanded; and The Making of the British Army, a history of the Army from the Civil War to the present-day War on Terror. He writes on defence matters for The Times, the Daily Telegraph and is a regular reviewer for The Times, the Spectator and the Literary Review. For more information on Allan Mallinson and his books, please visit his website: www.hervey.info

Product Description

Review

"Mallinson uncovers a litany of rivalry and miscalculation. With the Great War's centenary commemorations on the horizon, he has produced a must-read for anyone who wants to know how Britain practically stumbled into one of the bloodiest conflicts in history." SUNDAY EXPRESS "Formidable and page-turning ... Mallinson's clinical examination of the 'what ifs' is as compelling as his account of the death of a small but professional army, scarficed to the incuriosity of our politicians and disinclination of military leaders to countenance any challange to what they believed were best laid plans." -- Michael Tillotson THE TIMES "Compelling and rigorously researched...paints a vivid picture... this is not dry military history. He tells the story through many eyes of those on the frontline, from general to Tommy. It's recounted through regimental histories and underpinned with his deep understanding of tactics ... offers unique insights on the planning, 'politicking' and fighting." DAILY EXPRESS "In the deluge of books to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, it is refreshing to find one written by a former soldier who is also an accomplished military historian ... a vivid picture ... with his soldier's grasp of tactics and strategy, Mallinson describes with clarity and authority the opening weeks of the war." -- Simon Heffer DAILY MAIL "Mallinson writes with an exciting pen and a cool head and he understands war." -- Prof. Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute The Times

Book Description

Now in paperback, a fascinating and revelatory new history of the origins of the First World War, of those first few crucial weeks of fighting, and of how Britain and its army fared. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Necessary War 2 Sep 2013
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Brigadier Allan Mallinson retired from the army in March 2004 after a distinguished career in which he commanded his regiment, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). His last appointment was as the British Defence and Military Attache in Rome.
He originally had trained for the Anglican Priesthood.

He is the author of the Hervey novels in which the heroes are British Army Officers. Of the 11 published I particularly recommend 'A Call To Arms' (2002). All however are a good read.

He has also written non-fiction books, for example a history of 4 British cavalry regiments, and 'The Making of the British Army' in which he examines some 500 years of the British Army up tp 2002. He also writes occasional articles on defence matters for the 'Times'.

His army experience shows in this new book about the First World War. He is particularly good on the opening weeks of the war when the BEF were engaged in a war that they had not been trained for-it was a close run thing. Mallinson pulls no punches when he details the suffering and at times the futility of it all.
Thankfully, he does not join those who claim we should have kept out of the war. Asquith as Prime Minister made it clear that we owed a debt of honour to little Belgium, and that we could not let France face the Germans alone.

Unsurprisingly, there is little that is new in this book. However, it is written with clarity and an excellent style. As such it is an excellent addition to the academic and magisterial works of Strachan, Bond, Stevenson,Clarke and Sheffield. What Mallinson lacks in academic terms he more than makes up with his deep personal knowledge of soldiering.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The writing makes for easy reading despite all the facts.

It took a while to realise that the references at the end of a section, were just that. Howevr once I hag grasped this,
it was a very helpful addition.

Go for it
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1914 - Fight the Good Fight 29 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We are to be inundated in books on the subject of the Great War in the coming year. Alan Mallinson's explanation of the war's origins is likely to be one of the best. He has an attractive writing style, as one would expect from the author of the Matthew Hervey series of historical novels. Equally important he has reduced to complex series of events that led to the war to a narrative that is easy to follow and understand. My only complaints are that there is no bibliography and there are minimal foot or end-notes to substantiate many of his references. Since some of his judgements might be regarded by some (such as apologists for German actions) as controversial, this is a a pity.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A clear and concise analysis of the historical background to W W 1 and the dilemma facing the British government of how to balance our national interests with our treaty obligations. This is followed by a clear exposition of the strategy and tactics, and the problems with our French allies, which resulted in an under-sized and over confident B E F narrowly avoiding disaster in the first few months of the war. Brigadier Mallinson has shown himself to be in the forefront of modern military historians.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read 10 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a highly readable book on the lead up to WW1 and events up to the race for the sea. Written by an ex-army officer, it deals less with the political and diplomatic side and more with the military side; the plans and preparations of the continental nations with their huge conscript armies, contrasted with the small British regular army designed for policing an empire. Ex regular soldiers will, I believe, find it particularly interesting and informative.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Perspective 27 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover
There have been many histories of the First World War and the centenary of its outbreak will no doubt see several more released. In his book, Mallinson explores the political and military history of the century before the war, starting with the first treaty of Paris in 1814. This sets the scene for his detailed exploration of the first twenty days of fighting by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) against the Germans in France.

Mallinson has over three decades experience as a soldier and a staff officer and this brings an authority and insight to his writing. He has clearly done extensive and meticulous research but his professional experience means he understands the psychology of soldiers of every rank.

He uses first-person accounts from his research to great effect. During the fierce fighting on 24 August 1914 (known as ‘Shrapnel Monday’ because of the amount of shots fired), he quotes Captain Francis Grenfell of the Lancers: “We galloped about like rabbits in front of a line of guns, men and horses falling in all directions.” Another recalls the relief of being soaked in a downpour after carrying fifty pounds of equipment in the relentless heat: “Good as a bath, and twice as refreshing.”

Mallinson’s writing style is fresh and vivid throughout. His own account of politicians assembling and arguing in the stifling offices of the secretary of state is as gripping as any novel, as are his accounts of battle. There is excellent use of battle plans in the book, and the supporting photographs and old cartoons are superb. Highly recommended as both an authoritative and accessible history of the period.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book via the Historical Novel Society. This review (or an edited version) has appeared in the Historical Novels Review. My review is my independent opinion.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excallent
Published 9 days ago by Graham Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Slightly different approach and well up with the best of latest books...
This is written in Allan Mallinson's already unmistakable non-fiction style; just that touch lighter and readable, but no less informative than the heavier tomes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Huntley
5.0 out of 5 stars To be read by Politicians and the Military
A consise, very readable introduction to the causes of WW1, good for those with no knowlege of the reasons for the conflict and an excellent reintroduction to those who have... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Max Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars 1914
Allan Mallinson has written yet another highly readable book, explaining what happened in 1914, how it came about and the consequences.
Published 6 months ago by Giles Radford
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent book
I have read a number of books on WW1, and this gave a new insight. What I liked particularly, is it explained from all points of view - there was a reason why the parties did what... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars 1914, review of Allan Mallinson's book
A very well researched and informative history of the run up to WW1. I learned a lot and it will be a good reference book for the future.
Published 7 months ago by Pamela Dew
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good account
From a highly knowledgeable military historian this is a very readable and informative account of events leading to the outbreak of war in 1914.
Published 8 months ago by J. B. Lean
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book on the build up to the Great War and the BEF in...
This book is hugely well researched yet very readable. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the build up to the war and the development of the BEF.
Published 8 months ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Authors deliver.
Great. Dispels some myths of the era.Should be required reading for all young history students.Shows how easy to find a mess in Europe.
Published 9 months ago by D.H.Lawrenson
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