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 March 2014 Contents

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Challenge of Battle by Adrian Gilbert

Great War Tommy Manual

A superb collection of new crime books on the crime page, including a new Vera Stanhope mystery by Anne Cleeves...

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You are here: Books Monthly Reviews The Great War 1914-1918 



 

Adrian Gilbert: Challenge of Battle - The Real Story of the British Army in 1914

Published by Osprey, Hardrback

 

Winston Churchill described the opening campaign of World War I as 'a drama never surpassed'. The titanic clash of Europe's armies in 1914 is one the great stories of 20th-century history, and one in which the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) would play a notable part.

Previous assessments of the BEF have held to an unshakeable belief in its exceptional performance during the battles of 1914. But closer examination of the historical record reveals a force possessing some key strengths yet undermined by other, significant failings.

Within an authoritative and well-paced campaign narrative, Challenge of Battle re-evaluates the Army's leadership, organization and tactics. It describes the problems faced by commanders, grappling with the brutal realities of 20th-century warfare, and explains how the British infantry's famed marksmanship has to be set against the inexperience and tactical shortcomings of the BEF as a whole. But it also demonstrates the progress made by the British during 1914, concluding with the successful defence of Ypres against superior enemy forces.

The author examines the fateful decisions made by senior officers and how they affected the men under their command. Making full use of diaries, letters and other contemporary accounts, he builds a compelling picture of what it was like to fight in the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Aisne and Ypres.

In this thought-provoking new book, Adrian Gilbert clears away the layers of sentiment that have obscured a true historical understanding of the 1914 campaign to provide a full, unvarnished picture of the BEF at war.

 

I wouldn't have known about this if it were not for the fact my daughter is playing violin and viola in the small group of musicians providing the live music in this new production of the classic fairy tale by J M Barrie, and she gave me a copy of the screenplay as a Christmas gift (Thank you, Sam, it's brilliant!). I've always loved reading plays - I spent six months in between homes when I was sixteen years old reading the complete plays of Noel Coward and got a real taste for it that would have stood me in good stead had I continued my A Level English studies instead of beginning to make my way in the world of work... This new production, written from a slightly feminist point of view, has been getting rave reviews from the theatre critics, and stars Guy Henry (Henrik Hanssen from Holby City) as Captain Hook. Haven't been to see it yet, but the screenplay is delightful and, what's even more important, my daughter's name appears in it! Fabulous. Wendy and Peter Pan runs at the RSC Stratford Upon Avon until the first week of March...

 

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Haynes Owner's Workshop Manual: Great War Tommy

Published by Haynes, Hardback

 

The Great War continues to fascinate, and never more so as we approach 2014, the centenary year of its outbreak. There is an abiding fascination in the uniform and equipment of the British Great War soldier. What was it like to wear? What were puttees? What does a gas mask look like? How heavy was the equipment? How did you dig a trench? These and other typical questions will be answered in Haynes Manual style, providing a vivid insight into life during the Great War for the average 'Tommy Atkins'. Peter Doyle is a military historian and author who has written widely on the First World War. He is a visiting Professor at University College London and is co-secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group.

 

I wouldn't have known about this if it were not for the fact my daughter is playing violin and viola in the small group of musicians providing the live music in this new production of the classic fairy tale by J M Barrie, and she gave me a copy of the screenplay as a Christmas gift (Thank you, Sam, it's brilliant!). I've always loved reading plays - I spent six months in between homes when I was sixteen years old reading the complete plays of Noel Coward and got a real taste for it that would have stood me in good stead had I continued my A Level English studies instead of beginning to make my way in the world of work... This new production, written from a slightly feminist point of view, has been getting rave reviews from the theatre critics, and stars Guy Henry (Henrik Hanssen from Holby City) as Captain Hook. Haven't been to see it yet, but the screenplay is delightful and, what's even more important, my daughter's name appears in it! Fabulous. Wendy and Peter Pan runs at the RSC Stratford Upon Avon until the first week of March...

 

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Books Monthly is published by Paul Norman on the first day of each month. Submitting to Books Monthly: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Books Monthly, I do it all for fun! Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me: paulenorman@yahoo.co.uk