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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Retreat to Victory, 4 May 2011
This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
Readable historians are not widespread; I was reading the first chapter when I decided that John Terraine was one of the rare, readable ones. AN easily digestible read, he painted an interesting picture of how the 3 nations' armies involved arrived with outdated tactics and equipment and evolved along the way. An important period in European history< I found this an absorbing read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 13 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
I originally had this book years ago when I was a young teenager and read it about 4 times over a period of 20 years. Unfortunately it got lost a few years ago when I moved home.

They book is well written. I really like John Terraine's writing style and insights. It is well researched and brings a lot of insights into the key characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you would expect from Jonh Terraine, 4 April 2013
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Mr. Michael A. Lavery (Portsmouth Hants) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
A good coverage of this battle and retreat of the BEF from August 1914. You had to be hard to follow in the footsteps of these soldiers fighting and on foot all the way to the Marne river. I have nothing but admiration for this army and the way Smith- Dorrien fought this battle. Although General French comes across as a bit of a yo-yo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mons : The retreat to Victory, 14 July 2011
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A very good book, quite informative without being over-detailed. Have just returned from a battlefield trip to Mons (First and Last Shots of World War I) and this was a good reference book to gain an overview of the Retreat from Mons without getting bogged down in technicalities. Book was new, received on time and in good condition. Very pleased.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Months, 13 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
John Terraine writes as an enthusiast as well as a scholar. His account is very well written and provides a gripping account of the valour as well as the confusion as the main enemy force met a highly professional, but small army of only 5 divisions. Inevitably confusion was a major element on both sides in the very fluid early days.Often the valour of small groups operating almost independently was all that stood between defeat and victory. By the time the remnants had rached the Marne, the German plan had been defeated and the 'Old Contemptibles' had ceased to exist. It is a compelling story.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IT WASN'T POINTLESS, 22 Nov 2011
By 
Stephen Cooper (South Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
John Terraine (1923-2001) was a historian who set out to correct various myths which had arisen about the First World War, the most persistent of which is that it was all `pointless'. We still hear this one repeated, regularly, by pacifists.

At the time the War was regarded by vast numbers of people in Britain as `The Great War for Civilisation', which had saved Europe from German militarism (and even barbarism). The family of every man who fell was sent a medallion, which bore the that inscription and the words `He died for Honour and for Freedom' on the other side. (I have one, because my grandfather was killed during the last German offensive of March 1918). Thereafter, the poets and revisionists got to work, culminating in the popular film `Oh What A Lovely War!' which portrayed the whole thing as a futile and bloody shambles. Tell that to the Belgians, who were occupied by the Germans for four years; and tell it to the Russians, who had to submit to a dictated peace in 1917, at Brest-Litovsk.

In a series of books, Terraine attempted to show that there was much truth in the inscription on that medal than we had come to believe. He was the mastermind behind the BBC's brilliant series `The Great War' (1964) and the author of `Douglas Haig, the Educated Soldier' (1963) which attempted to refute the idea that Haig was merely the leading `donkey', in an undistinguished cast of British generals.

`Mons' is now re-published by `Pen & Sword' and this is most welcome. It was first published in 1960. It takes us back to August 1914, before the world learned the meaning of trench warfare and before the War Poets started to spread their insidious messages of defeatism, to a time when the War was still one of movement and battles were unpredictable, though everyone hoped it would all be over by Christmas. It criticises the generals on all sides, but in a moderate and meaningful way. It explains the strategy, in terms we can understand. There are some great anecdotes (for example, of how Sir John French tried to speak French to his opposite number); and the narrative is nicely woven with personal memoirs.

The book marked the first chapter in Terraine's revision of the revisionists. He shows, above all, that the British assisted the French greatly in slowing down the German invasion of France in 1914. Had they not done so, the Schlieffen Plan might well have worked. It might have been 1870 all over again; or to put it another way, it could have been 1940, 25 years early. The French might have been knocked out of the war and the British Army destroyed, with incalculable consequences for Europe and democracy. Make no mistake about it, the Germans were just as much of a threat in 1914 as they were 1939; and, though we no longer like to mention it, they did start both World Wars.

The book is eminently readable, though the maps are not as good as one might have hoped for; and the layman will wish for an explanation of the numbers. (How many troops in a battalion, and how many in a division?)

Stephen Cooper
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5.0 out of 5 stars I loved reading where my Grandfather was during the battle of ..., 7 July 2014
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This review is from: Mons: The Retreat to Victory (Paperback)
I loved reading where my Grandfather was during the battle of Mons - he was in the Royal West Kent Regiment - I can only imagine what all of these brave men went through. Thank You
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4.0 out of 5 stars A kindly analysis, 22 April 2014
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This book was first published over 50 years ago, and possibly opinions have changed since that time. A most readable book but the author perhaps takes an over-kindly view of the actions of the BEF, particularly at Mons and Le Cateau. Nevertheless this is a first class account of the opening stage of the war.
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Mons: The Retreat to Victory
Mons: The Retreat to Victory by John Terraine (Paperback - 21 Jan 2010)
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