- Save 10% on selected children’s books, compliments of Amazon Family Promotion exclusive for Prime members .
Fire and Movement: The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914 Hardcover – 30 Oct 2014
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Fire and Movement is certainly the best and most perceptive account of the BEF in 1914 currently in print... It is impossible to offer more than a very strong recommendation for peter Hart's latest work. (David Filsell, The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society.)
s an Imperial War Museum oral historian with a string of books about the Great War covering such diverse subjects as Gallipoli, Jutland, and the air war to his name, Peter Hart is justly renowned. With his consumate melding of narrative with descriptions from contemporary diaries and letters, he has effectively taken over the mantle of Lyn MacDonald, producing works that are both accessible to the general reader and informative to the expert. This new volume, covering the Great War from its outbreak until the end of 1914 is no exception. (Western Front Association: Stand To!, Niall Ferguson)
Hart has established himself as a respected historian on the Great War... His books are never dry academic tomes. Pitched at the general reading public and Great War buffs alike, they deliver a clear, engaging and easy to read narrative, interspersed with analysis, and laced with chunks of quotes from participants that add colour and substance to the incidents he relates. (Sydney Morning Herald, Chris Roberts)
Fire and Movement is an eminently readable volume ... Hart's work has established a place as a valuable text on the subject. It will appeal to both scholars and general readers, and deserves to be read by both. (Spencer Jones, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research)
It is [a] combination of strongly expressed opinion, nuance, rigorous argument, and research which makes this book an excellent read, as much for the beginner as for those with previous knowledge. (Bijan Omrani, Military History magazine)
Hart's ability to capture individual warriors' experiences as they vividly described them and connect those stories to the broader campaign narrative is a key strength of Fire and Movement (Brian Drohan, Army History)
About the Author
Peter Hart is Oral Historian of the Imperial War Museum in London. He is the author of The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War;Gallipoli;The Somme: The Darkest Hour on the Western Front; and 1918: A Very British Victory.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
Peter Hart pulls no punches. Far fr...om being “a rapier amongst scythes”, or “that perfect thing apart”, he highlights both the failings and the strengths of the British Expeditionary Force and how it operated in the field. One particular point that he reinforces is that the British cavalry, far from being the useless outdated ornamentation of the battlefield that was only interested in charging, was capable to a multitude of roles that its continental brothers-in-arms were not trained to do. As mounted infantry, capable of moving to vulnerable points on a battlefield where reinforcements were needed, the British cavalry proved its worth time and again during 1914. The tactical effectiveness and sometimes lacklustre performance of the branches of the Royal Regiment of Artillery during the early weeks of the war, in comparison to their German counterparts, are honestly recounted, as are the early engagements at Mons, Le Cateau and the subsequent Retreat. I, personally, would have liked to have read more about the rearguard action at Villers-Cotterêts by 4th (Guards) Brigade of 2nd Division on 1 September 1914, as the author has decided to concentrate on the “Affair at Nery” instead, but this is a very minor point. The fighting during October and November in Northern France and around Ypres is also well-covered, again highlighting that French troops were also involved in large numbers during the fighting, something often ignored by more partisan British authors. The important contributions of the Indian Expeditionary Force, which began to arrive in late September 1914 despite the original mobilisation scheme having been ordered to be destroyed, (fortunately this did not happen), and the vital reinforcements provided by the Territorial Force, are also described in the book. The tactical problems of the early experiences of trench warfare at the final days of the year, as well as the “Christmas Truce” and the myths that often surround these localised arrangements, close what is an excellent account of the experiences of the British Expeditionary Force during the first months of the Great War.
Peter Hart correctly places the British Expeditionary Force within its context as a subordinate force to the huge armies of France, something that many British authors choose to ignore. The Expeditionary Force was created within tight budgets imposed by successive governments which preferred to lavish expenditure on the Royal Navy. The prevailing mood in Britain was against conscription, so therefore the hope of raising huge armies on a par with those of Germany and France was not possible. While some British authors often concentrate on the B.E.F. as if it alone fought the Germans to a standstill, the immense effort of the French Army, and the small Belgian Army, is given equal coverage and, importantly, proper consideration. Likewise, the view adopted by some historians that the German Army was perfect in everything is challenged, giving due credit to where their tactics were superior to the Allies but at the same time describing their faults.
The key strength of the book is the use of a wide variety of accounts from participants, not just British, but German and French as well, of the events. Although some reviewers have commented on the extended length of quotations as though they detract from the narrative, I do not agree with this at all. Allowing the men to speak for themselves, without paraphrasing or misquoting, is an approach I would wish more authors to follow. Although their accounts are naturally limited in their grasp of the wider tactical situation, they offer the reader a more realistic view of being at the “sharp end” than some of the more flowery prose adopted by other authors who decide to limit the views of the participants to a few sound-bites.
I commend this book to you if you wish to read an honest account of what the “Old Contemptibles” faced in 1914, and how they materially assisted the French and Belgian armies to hold the Germans on the Western Front during the early months of the war.
The fighting in 1914 was different from the trench warfare that later came to dominate fighting on the Western Front. The Germans looked for a quick victory in France in order to turn their attention to the Eastern Front in Russia. Both large armies, that of Germany and France, sought a quick, decisive victory based on annihilation and maneuver. That was not to be given the size of the armies and the changes in military and economic resources.
Hart integrates his history of the BEF with the history of the War in 1914. He emphasizes throughout the small size and resources of the BEF in the early campaigns in comparison with the armies of Germany and France. His study aims to correct the work of earlier writers who frequently make extravagant claims for the BEF. Nevertheless, he finds heroism, grit, and determination in the actions of the troops and some of their leaders in the face of terrible fighting.
The book begins with Britain's preparations for war and its alliances in the years leading up to the conflict. Hart rejects the notion that Britain was unprepared for war, but he finds that it had largely prepared for a naval war rather that for sending boots on the ground. In successive chapters, he discusses the 1914 campaign, including the Battle of Frontiers, and BEF's role at Mons and Le Cateau, the Great Retreat, and the turn-around in the fortunes of the War at the Battle of the Marne. The story picks up even more force in Hart's account of the Battle of the Aisne, the Race to the Sea, and, in particular, the first Battle of Ypres. Hart offers an insightful overview of the beginning of trench warfare, and he explores the legends that have grown around the "Christmas Truce" in December 1914.
Hart tries to show throughout the character of the French and German armies as well as the BEF. British writers tend to overstate the BEF's role, Hart argues, and this leads to a failure to understand the real contributions the BEF made during the early months of the war. Hart's history makes extensive use of eyewitness accounts from the letters, memoirs, and diaries of soldiers. He draws primarily on BEF records but uses German and French records as well. As the history proceeds, Hart makes increasingly frequent use of quoted materials. He begins and ends his lengthy chapters with summations with the body of the text often consisting of quotations with annotations. The quotations are effective in giving a feel for combat and for the lives and sufferings of the soldiers. For example, here is a quotation from a member of the BEF that Hart offers that comes from the climactic fighting at Ypres.
"It all fills me with a great rage. I know I have got to stop my bullet some time and it is merely a question of where it hits one, whether it is dead or wounded. I don't care one farthing as far as I am concerned, but the whole thing is an outrage on civilization. The whole of this beautiful country is devastated -- broken houses, broken bodies, blood, filth and ruin everywhere. an any unending hellfire for the Kaiser, his son and the party who caused this war repair the broken bodies and worse broken hearts which are being made -- being made this very minute -- within a few hundred yards of where I am sitting?"
Although lengthy and slow, the book is absorbing and difficult to put down. With its focus on the BEF, the book sometimes presupposes a background knowledge in its readers of the basics of the military history of 1914. Thus the book will not serve as a good introductory account for readers unfamiliar with the outbreak and early battles of WW I. It will be of most value to readers with strong prior knowledge of and interest in the War in 1914 and in the role of the BEF. The book is an eloquent tribute to the BEF and a judicious history of its contributions during this centenary year of the events that it commemorates.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Look for similar items by category