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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More First World War from Gary Sheffield
An excellent multi author book edited by a writer who must now be regarded as the best writer about the Western Front. The book looks at how the command structures worked at various times and at various levels and how and why changes took place. It is difficult to single out any one contributor, they are all first class. I very strongly recommend this book.
Published on 17 Jan. 2013 by Mike

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the tin.
This is less a single book than a collection of essays giving an account of the various levels of command and control on the western front, from GHQ through to Brigade, with an essay about artillery appended as something of an afterthought.

Before we get on to the content, the book is relatively poorly edited and proof-read and contains several typos and...
Published 4 months ago by MR J P EWER


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More First World War from Gary Sheffield, 17 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
An excellent multi author book edited by a writer who must now be regarded as the best writer about the Western Front. The book looks at how the command structures worked at various times and at various levels and how and why changes took place. It is difficult to single out any one contributor, they are all first class. I very strongly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the tin., 24 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
This is less a single book than a collection of essays giving an account of the various levels of command and control on the western front, from GHQ through to Brigade, with an essay about artillery appended as something of an afterthought.

Before we get on to the content, the book is relatively poorly edited and proof-read and contains several typos and non-sequiturs that trip up the reader already struggling with the somewhat turgid subject matter.

Niall Barr opens with an excellent account of the transition from open warfare to the trenches. This is the best and most expansive chapter of the book and its worth buying it for this alone.

Dan Todman takes up the second chapter describing the evolution of GHQ throughout the war. This chapter is extremely turgid and claustrophobic and much like Tim Travers writings (upon whom Todman relies heavily) its inward looking and tends to rely on a he-said-she-said form of historiography that seems to ignore the actual outcomes of what actually *happened*.

Gary Sheffield describes and assesses Hubert Gough and Fifth Army on the Somme. This is quite a good analysis of Gough in that battle but does little to elucidate the overall experience of Army command.

Andy Simpson's description of Corps command is somewhat unremarkable and leaves the reader little the wiser about what the role of Corps command was.

John Lee's description of Division command is again more expansive and satisfactory but again focusses on only a single battle at a defined stage in the war.

Peter Simkins deals well with the experience of the Brigade commander, for whom he elicits considerable sympathy. This is one of the better chapters in the book.

Chris McCarthy deals with the operational level of command of the infantry, and begins to touch the surface of what most readers will be interested in, but there is not enough room in this forum for him to properly cut loose.

Finally Sander Marble accounts for the artillery by delivering a potted biography of one artillery officer. Given that this was an artillery war and that command, control, and coordination of artillery with other arms was absolutely crucial to battlefield success, this chapter is simply not good enough by a long shot.

While this book does include many tasty scraps of material, there is no overall theme. The book simply doesn't *scan* as each of the chapters is a self-contained essay that fails to segue with its neighbours.

There is perhaps the nucleus of a very good book here, but a concise yet comprehensive analysis of command and control on the western front, it fails to deliver the good.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but a bit late, 17 Jun. 2013
This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
This book is great. I would have given it 5 stars but I always think a 5 comes from the authors' mum. If you're into command or C2 systems (or whatever acronym is popular these days) this book is ideal. It's just a shame it's taken a century to hit the shops. The authors ought to be checking out the bulbous HQs that we have in Afghanistan, which suffer the same problems as the BEF but with the added weight of computers and back seat drivers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I would shelves books like this in my "Business Management" section, 11 Dec. 2014
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Michael Elliott (San Jose, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
Right out of university, I became a professional book store manager. I would shelves books like this in my "Business Management" section. Corporate leaders loved books like this...problem solving under harsh conditions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essays at variance with editorial gloss, 25 Sept. 2014
By 
Rod Beecham "WWI Freak" (Monbulk, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
The essays in this collection contain much interesting detail about the tactics of the British army on the Western Front. What they indicate is that imaginative improvisation and flexibility were present at the lower levels of the B.E.F. from the very beginning of the war and that what is misleadingly called the ‘learning curve’ denotes the slowness with which the higher command allowed this improvisation and flexibility to flourish. Sanders Marble notes the higher command’s preference for strategy over tactics (pp. 197-98) and, as Peter Simkins says, brigade commanders were ‘convenient scapegoats’ for the failings of generals (p. 153). Neill Barr shows why British Staff officers had such a poor reputation: most of the qualified ones were killed in the first year of the war due to the higher command’s habit of selecting obvious locations for headquarters, thereby attracting German shellfire (pp. 27-8). Dan Todman notes that GHQ left London in 1914 without its code-books (p. 44). Gary Sheffield shows that (temporary) Lieutenant-General Gough’s attack of 2 July 1916 on the Schwaben Redoubt was ‘a complete shambles’ (pp. 78-80) and provides a damning indictment of the inhabitants and workings of Fifth Army headquarters (pp. 84-7). It is amusing that, in spite of the evidence the volume itself provides, the editors’ Introduction is a rehearsal of simplistic revisionist notions: the general public was brainwashed into thinking British generals were stupid butchers by the writings of Churchill, Lloyd George and Liddell Hart and the process has continued through the evil influence of Oh! What a Lovely War and Blackadder Goes Forth, but now dedicated specialists are working to give a more nuanced picture, etc., etc.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Trying to encompass enormous experiences, 23 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
One of Prof Sheffield's earlier books and one I would still highly recommend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and essential MA reading, 21 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Command and Control of the Western Front: The British Army's Experience 1914-18 (Paperback)
Academically sound, up to date, objective, thorough. An easy read - a series of essays rather than papers. Adds considerable depth to one's understanding so ideally suited to an MA or BA student or keen amateur historian.
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