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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 29 September 2014
This book, first published in 2009, recounts the lead-up to the outbreak of World War I and the encounters that came to be called the First Battle of the Marne in 1914 on the Western Front through Belgium and France.

The first part of the book covers aspects of the months leading up to July 1914 and the first parts of mobilisation from the perspectives mainly of the German, French and British forces. Once mobilisation had occurred and the forces met heading through Belgium the narrative moves to troop movements and encounters. While this has clearly been very thoroughly researched, the narrative is rather dry and at times reads a bit like an equipment (or personnel) list. That's partly the fault, I think of the rather fractured actual events of 1914 - there wasn't one gigantic Battle of the Marne, rather a whole lot of encounters along the borders of Western Europe which came to collectively be called that first Battle. So the narrative does tend to jump around chronologically as well as geographically. Unfortunately that does make it sometimes feel like a bit of a difficult read to comprehend an overall viewpoint of what's happening through the book.

There are a few black and white photos in the book, and some maps of campaigns, which I found rather tricky to make sense of - they didn't seem either very clear, or very well reproduced for the most part.

While a very worthwhile book, this is not an engaging read, as another reviewer has already mentioned. This has not satisfied my search for knowledge on the early days of the War on the Western Front, and I will look for other works to bolster that search. I shall certainly be getting Tuchman's classics on the War to read, and a work by Robert Asprey on the First Battle of the Marne.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 29 September 2014
This book, first published in 2009, recounts the lead-up to the outbreak of World War I and the encounters that came to be called the First Battle of the Marne in 1914 on the Western Front through Belgium and France.

The first part of the book covers aspects of the months leading up to July 1914 and the first parts of mobilisation from the perspectives mainly of the German, French and British forces. Once mobilisation had occurred and the forces met heading through Belgium the narrative moves to troop movements and encounters. While this has clearly been very thoroughly researched, the narrative is rather dry and at times reads a bit like an equipment (or personnel) list. That's partly the fault, I think of the rather fractured actual events of 1914 - there wasn't one gigantic Battle of the Marne, rather a whole lot of encounters along the borders of Western Europe which came to collectively be called that first Battle. So the narrative does tend to jump around chronologically as well as geographically. Unfortunately that does make it sometimes feel like a bit of a difficult read to comprehend an overall viewpoint of what's happening through the book.

There are a few black and white photos in the book, and some maps of campaigns, which I found rather tricky to make sense of - they didn't seem either very clear, or very well reproduced for the most part.

While a very worthwhile book, this is not an engaging read, as another reviewer has already mentioned. This has not satisfied my search for knowledge on the early days of the War on the Western Front, and I will look for other works to bolster that search. I shall certainly be getting Tuchman's classics on the War to read, and a work by Robert Asprey on the First Battle of the Marne.
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on 28 January 2010
not always engaging. The research behind The Marne is impressive. This is probably the most detailed overarching account of the first month of the Great War that exists. The title is a tad misleading, for the book covers the bitter opening battles along the entire Western Front, encompassing the actions of all four armies fighting in August and September 1914. For a largely academic volume, the author does not ignore the human (and inhuman) element - the horrors of battle and the 'German atrocities'.

At times the narrative becomes bogged down with the movements and manoeuvres of armies, however. Corps X, division Y, gaps and flanks which may be good for serious military historians but rather confuse the more general reader. That's not helped by the maps, some of which have reproduced rather poorly. Also the photographic selection is very limited: the only images from the actual campaign show destruction of the Liège forts and devastated Louvain; not one photograph of the actual Marne campaign!

With these reservations in mind, this is an impressive addition to our understanding of the first weeks of the 1914 campaign, but for human drama, Barbara Tuchmann's August 1914 still stands supreme after five decades.
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on 8 June 2014
The book begins examining the reasons to go to war,above all for Germany and the Absburg Empire, then analyzing the war plans of all the powers involved in this world war, including even a lot of "what if"s.
The author, then, follows the development of this huge conflict , on the Western Front, until the end of the battle of the Marne, analyzing, even on this case, a lot of very interesting "what if"s .
I don't want that from these words you can think that this is just a cold detailed research book about a battle, because, instead this book is full of first hand accounts coming from a lot of war diaries written by soldiers belogning to all the possible ranks, from private to general.
Even if this book is based mainly on german sources, this book is not onesided, indeed it includes even a complete list and description of the german crimes committed in Belgium, in thev first months of war.
The author thinks that this battle is the most important of the century because if the Germans had won it, it would not have happened the birth of the Nazism (the treaty of Versailles would not have existed) and of the Comunism ( winning at the Marne, the Germans would have defeated France, and so consequently even Russia, being, on this case , a nonsense to help Lenin to reach Russia).
The maps are excellent and for sure much better than many others found in other book about WWI.
A great research book with a great soul.
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on 16 December 2011
Not having read any other works on the subject makes it difficult to compare. So my impression is good, the work appears authorative and is in general an easy read given that there is laid out a lot of detail. The slight downside is to do with the detail, as this part of the war was all about manoeuvre and position, a lot of detail is given as to who moved what when and where. There are several maps showing this, but given the level of detail described, I think more accompanying maps would have helped.
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on 9 May 2011
This is quite a superficial book, marked by a 'snappy' prose style and amazingly dogmatic claims that are, to say the least, debatable (e.g. the author claims he can state categorically on the basis of his research, exactly what a German victory in the war would have meant). Wow.

He also litters his writing with deeply tendentious adjectives -and adverbs. People he doesn't like (usually British)are usually described as 'speaking hysterically' or 'prattling'. Wow. Was he there? seems not. Look elsewhere for good writing on this topic that is also grounded in actual historical ability.
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