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1914: Fight the Good Fight: Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War Hardcover – 29 Aug 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; 1st Edition edition (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593067606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593067604
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Mallinson uncovers a litany of rivalry and miscalculation. With the Great War's centenary commemorations on the horizon, he has produced a must-read for anyone who wants to know how Britain practically stumbled into one of the bloodiest conflicts in history." (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

"Formidable and page-turning . . . Mallinson's clinical examination of the 'what ifs' is as compelling as his account of the death of a small but professional army, scarficed to the incuriosity of our politicians and disinclination of military leaders to countenance any challange to what they believed were best laid plans." (Michael Tillotson THE TIMES)

"Compelling and rigorously researched...paints a vivid picture. . . this is not dry military history. He tells the story through many eyes of those on the frontline, from general to Tommy. It's recounted through regimental histories and underpinned with his deep understanding of tactics . . . offers unique insights on the planning, 'politicking' and fighting." (DAILY EXPRESS)

"In the deluge of books to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, it is refreshing to find one written by a former soldier who is also an accomplished military historian . . . a vivid picture . . . with his soldier's grasp of tactics and strategy, Mallinson describes with clarity and authority the opening weeks of the war." (Simon Heffer DAILY MAIL)

"Mallinson writes with an exciting pen and a cool head and he understands war." (Prof. Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute The Times)

Book Description

In the run up to the centenary of the First World War comes a fascinating and revelatory new history of the origins of the war, of those first few crucial weeks of fighting, and of how Britain and its army fared.

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By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Brigadier Allan Mallinson retired from the army in March 2004 after a distinguished career in which he commanded his regiment, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own). His last appointment was as the British Defence and Military Attache in Rome.
He originally had trained for the Anglican Priesthood.

He is the author of the Hervey novels in which the heroes are British Army Officers. Of the 11 published I particularly recommend 'A Call To Arms' (2002). All however are a good read.

He has also written non-fiction books, for example a history of 4 British cavalry regiments, and 'The Making of the British Army' in which he examines some 500 years of the British Army up tp 2002. He also writes occasional articles on defence matters for the 'Times'.

His army experience shows in this new book about the First World War. He is particularly good on the opening weeks of the war when the BEF were engaged in a war that they had not been trained for-it was a close run thing. Mallinson pulls no punches when he details the suffering and at times the futility of it all.
Thankfully, he does not join those who claim we should have kept out of the war. Asquith as Prime Minister made it clear that we owed a debt of honour to little Belgium, and that we could not let France face the Germans alone.

Unsurprisingly, there is little that is new in this book. However, it is written with clarity and an excellent style. As such it is an excellent addition to the academic and magisterial works of Strachan, Bond, Stevenson,Clarke and Sheffield. What Mallinson lacks in academic terms he more than makes up with his deep personal knowledge of soldiering.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We are to be inundated in books on the subject of the Great War in the coming year. Alan Mallinson's explanation of the war's origins is likely to be one of the best. He has an attractive writing style, as one would expect from the author of the Matthew Hervey series of historical novels. Equally important he has reduced to complex series of events that led to the war to a narrative that is easy to follow and understand. My only complaints are that there is no bibliography and there are minimal foot or end-notes to substantiate many of his references. Since some of his judgements might be regarded by some (such as apologists for German actions) as controversial, this is a a pity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A clear and concise analysis of the historical background to W W 1 and the dilemma facing the British government of how to balance our national interests with our treaty obligations. This is followed by a clear exposition of the strategy and tactics, and the problems with our French allies, which resulted in an under-sized and over confident B E F narrowly avoiding disaster in the first few months of the war. Brigadier Mallinson has shown himself to be in the forefront of modern military historians.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a highly readable book on the lead up to WW1 and events up to the race for the sea. Written by an ex-army officer, it deals less with the political and diplomatic side and more with the military side; the plans and preparations of the continental nations with their huge conscript armies, contrasted with the small British regular army designed for policing an empire. Ex regular soldiers will, I believe, find it particularly interesting and informative.
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Format: Paperback
Never judge a book by its cover! Wordy title and slightly hackneyed front cover but inside is a seriously researched and immensely readable book. Have read dozens of 1WW books but this one brings new and thought-provoking insights. A nice surprise.
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Format: Hardcover
There have been many histories of the First World War and the centenary of its outbreak will no doubt see several more released. In his book, Mallinson explores the political and military history of the century before the war, starting with the first treaty of Paris in 1814. This sets the scene for his detailed exploration of the first twenty days of fighting by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) against the Germans in France.

Mallinson has over three decades experience as a soldier and a staff officer and this brings an authority and insight to his writing. He has clearly done extensive and meticulous research but his professional experience means he understands the psychology of soldiers of every rank.

He uses first-person accounts from his research to great effect. During the fierce fighting on 24 August 1914 (known as ‘Shrapnel Monday’ because of the amount of shots fired), he quotes Captain Francis Grenfell of the Lancers: “We galloped about like rabbits in front of a line of guns, men and horses falling in all directions.” Another recalls the relief of being soaked in a downpour after carrying fifty pounds of equipment in the relentless heat: “Good as a bath, and twice as refreshing.”

Mallinson’s writing style is fresh and vivid throughout. His own account of politicians assembling and arguing in the stifling offices of the secretary of state is as gripping as any novel, as are his accounts of battle. There is excellent use of battle plans in the book, and the supporting photographs and old cartoons are superb. Highly recommended as both an authoritative and accessible history of the period.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book via the Historical Novel Society. This review (or an edited version) has appeared in the Historical Novels Review. My review is my independent opinion.
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