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8 Reviews
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forceful new look at 1914., 7 Mar 2014
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This is a brilliant history of the British Army during the epic campaigns in France and Belgium during 1914. This book goes beyond the usual story of the well-trained BEF repeatedly getting the better of the Germans, and shows instead the weaknesses of the army during the early stages, at Mons and especially at Le Cateau. It also shows how the BEF got its act together and played a key part in the defence of Ypres at the end of 1914. As well as analysing how the army fought, the author makes excellent use of the memoirs, diaries, letters of those involved. For the first time, we now have a proper, balanced history of the British part of one of the most important and interesting campaigns of World War I.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read., 6 April 2014
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Good read. Does not appear to have the bias of some other books I have read. Informative. Only way to improve it would be to include more maps.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No punches pulled, 22 April 2014
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This is an excellent and detailed account of the opening stages of the war without any account of the events leading up to the conflict. The author takes a realistic look at the engagements at Mons and Le Cateau, so often regarded as successful delaying actions, and the subsequent actions of the BEF. A most readable book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN TRIBUTE TO THE "OLD CONTEMPTIBLES", 18 Aug 2014
By 
MONTGOMERY (WASHINGTON, DC - U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
"Challenge of Battle" is, perhaps, the finest book yet written on what was the British Army of 1914. Of all the major European powers, Britain possessed the smallest peacetime army. Yet, despite its size, it was a force that had been seasoned over the past century in various colonial wars fought in Africa and Asia.

The common impression formed of the British Army upon taking the field in France in August 1914 and marching north into Belgium (where it first clashed with the German Army at Mons), was that despite its small numbers, it managed, owing to superior firepower and riflemanship, to always stay one step ahead of the Germans, helping their French allies to buy time, and thus keep Paris free and France afloat, at the First Battle of the Marne. Gilbert sets out to show the reader that the British Army was not without its faults, both in terms of tactics and its leadership. Indeed, "[t]he overall performance of the BEF [British Expeditionary Force] during the 1914 campaign was uneven. The peacetime failings in command and control had been ruthlessly exposed on many occasions, and the vital necessity for the separate arms to work closely together was a lesson that was painfully and sometimes inadequately learned. The morale of the other ranks had proved too dependent on the inspirational qualities of their officers; when officers became casualties, or otherwise failed as leaders, the men fell back from exposed front-line positions with alarming frequency. Good leadership at all levels was a precursor to battlefield success."

The story of the British Army's actions at Mons, Le Cateau, along the Aisne River, and in Flanders during October and November 1914 is well-detailed and a fascinating one. It is a story in which Gilbert shows to fine effect his extensive knowledge of the subject. Plus, this is a book that even the layperson can easily digest without getting lost (or hopelessly bogged down) in the minutae of military jargon that often clouds books on military history. I'm so glad I read this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced, 16 July 2014
This review is from: Challenge of Battle: the Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (General Military) (Kindle Edition)
This new book looks beyond the Official History (and the many other histories that have followed over the years) to describe both the highs and lows of the British Army in 1914. As well as being a measured reassessment of the BEF, Challenge of Battle includes many brilliant first-hand accounts that are by turn amusing, informative and deeply moving. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable insight into the first months of the Great War, 10 Aug 2014
By 
Peter Tabb (Channel Islands UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Challenge of Battle: the Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (General Military) (Kindle Edition)
A welcome detailed analysis of just why the war wasn't going to be over by Christmas and a telling insight into why the force dismissed as the Kaiser's 'Contemptible Little Army' wasn't contemptible at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very good history with lots of interesting facts, 23 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Challenge of Battle: the Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (General Military) (Kindle Edition)
A very good history with lots of interesting facts. The text can be a bit dry in places but that is probably because I have a read a lot of accounts and Im familiar with a lot of the bigger picture issues.What the book does show is that the British Army were a core of professionals, underfunded, politically neglected, lead by an officer corps that was professional in some cases and in most senior roles the aristocratic spares this lead to the inevitable consequences. What the book shows that I found most interesting is how these senior officers were all full of jealousy, petty feuds and political maneuvering at the cost of mens blood on the field!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Challenge of Battle: the Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (General Military) (Kindle Edition)
liek the previos book i enjoyed it very much
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