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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent contribution to anyones Great War Library
This book is a must for anyone interested in studying the First World War. The introductory chapter outlining the developments leading up to the war amongst the main protagonists is one of the finest I have ever come across. Robin Neillands explains the events leading up to the conflict and the actions of nations and individuals concerned with a clarity that is both...
Published on 28 May 2009 by Mr. Stephen Brunt

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor, old-fashioned military history
Disappointing, old-style military history focussing only on units and commanders, not the men and their experiences. Readable until it reaches Ypres, when the account deteriorates into long lists of units, villages and casualties. Total lack of maps means that unless your knowledge of the geography is excellent or you provide your own map, the descriptions are often...
Published 5 months ago by Firepig


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent contribution to anyones Great War Library, 28 May 2009
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This book is a must for anyone interested in studying the First World War. The introductory chapter outlining the developments leading up to the war amongst the main protagonists is one of the finest I have ever come across. Robin Neillands explains the events leading up to the conflict and the actions of nations and individuals concerned with a clarity that is both educating and easy to understand. He goes on to describe in great detail the magnificent contribution the Old Contemptibles made during the early days of the conflict, and how important this truly disciplined band of regular soldiers were.I would certainly recommend this book to anyone wanting a greater understanding of how the war to end all wars unfolded.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Contemptibles, 5 Aug 2010
This review is from: The Old Contemptibles (Paperback)
A very informative guide to the early days of the British Expeditionary Forces battles, a subject often glossed over in books on the Great War as they concentrate on later battles. At last, I have a picture of what life was like for my grandfather who was a regular soldier for ten years before WW1 was declared and became a member of the BEF.
Very well written and not at all stuffy! Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, lucid, 11 Oct 2013
By 
Rugby3 (California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
This book's strength is its absorbing analysis of the conditions before WW1 that led to the British Army sending its professional but small (180,000) fighting force against four million German troops. Amazingly, they held the line, at huge cost. The book tells how the army gallantly sacrificed itself at Mons and the Marne, on the Aisne and at Le Cateau, and Neillands lucidly lays out the story behind those battles. No student of WW1 should miss this insightful untangling of a difficult subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and very readable, 12 Dec 2013
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Ian Barker (Bolton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
This is a well-researched and very readable account of the British Expeditionary Force of 1914.

Neillands starts with the pre-war plans of the major nations, all of which hinged on 19th century tactics and very little of which survived contact with the enemy. The British plan to mobilise and ship an army to France worked perfectly. However, the planners had failed to recognise that it was the wrong army - equipped to fight the Boers and lacking the heavy weaponry needed for war against an industrialised opponent.

The book then moves on to the fighting itself, the retreat from Mons, the "stopping blow" at Le Cateau, the counter attack on the Marne and finally the grinding attrition of first Ypres. At times you really need a map to follow the action but the author is nothing if not thorough.

Although it took heavy casualties at Ypres the fact that the BEF line didn't break in the face of much larger forces is down to the training and professionalism of the ordinary soldiers. Their rate of rifle fire was so rapid that at times the Germans believed they were using machine guns. In acknowledging this Neillands makes a valid point that although the final months of 1914 set the pattern for the next four years of conflict they also sowed the seed of Germany's defeat.

I'll make my usual gripe about uncorrected OCR errors in the Kindle edition - especially annoying here as they often involve numbers making them impossible to interpret - but overall this is an excellent account and well worth reading for anyone interested in Britain's role in the Great War.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Retreat from Mons, 30 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
My father was a regular soldier and he was an Old Contemptible and unfortunately he didn't tell me much about it. The only thing I do remember was during the retreat he would, with others, march quickly up the road and have a doze and be awakened by his comrades as they caught up with him. Apart from the Battle of Mons I was able to piece together some of the other battles he was engaged in. I found the differences of opinion between the Generals a bit upsetting to think of all the men that died, my father although wounded a couple of times he lived to a good age. He was a member of the Old Contemptibles Assoc until he died. I found the book very informative, a little bit hard going but well worth it. I would have liked to have known more about the regiments that took part in that conflict.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor, old-fashioned military history, 2 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
Disappointing, old-style military history focussing only on units and commanders, not the men and their experiences. Readable until it reaches Ypres, when the account deteriorates into long lists of units, villages and casualties. Total lack of maps means that unless your knowledge of the geography is excellent or you provide your own map, the descriptions are often meaningless. Highly opinionated in its treatment of the commanders. Anglo-centric and even slightly jingoistic. Repetitious in parts. The Kindle edition appears to have been OCR'd and is full of errors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 July 2014
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
Excellent
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old Contemptibles, 13 July 2014
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Tinatwosocks (Wigan (UK spiritual home of Rugby League) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
This was a fascinating book. I knew nothing about the BEF or the role it played in stemming the initial German onslaught on Belgium and France, thus giving the Entente powers to the necessary time to gather themselves into some sort of fighting order. There are some light-hearted moments amongst the fearful description of the conflict that was going on, ie, Kaiser Bills remarks about the contemptible little army. This book was a great read from start to finish, particularly for anybody unfamiliar with the BEF's initial role at the beginning of the conflict.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it immensley, 3 July 2014
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This review is from: The Old Contemptibles: The British Expeditionary Force, 1914 (Kindle Edition)
Very well researched. the vindictiveness of FM French towards Smith Dorrien is astounding, nearly causing the BEF to be wiped out. Enjoyed it immensley.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 14 April 2014
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This book has been very usfull in aiding me with my research and I would recommend it to anyone interested in this period of military history.

Great Buy.
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