Brave Battalion is a preeminent example of why Mark Zuehlke has been hailed as one of Canada's foremost military historians. Telling the story of the Canadian Scottish 16th Battalion of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division during the First World War, Zuehlke's informative descriptions, coupled with the authoritative performance of Thomas Fawley, bring the listener into the trenches and across the battlegrounds from Canada over to England and, eventually, Europe. Fans of nonfiction and WWI lore will be thrilled by Zuehlke's narrative of the defeats and accomplishments of these brave men.
This is the story of the average Canadian who volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force told through the lens of one battalion - the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. This Highland Regiment fought in the Ypres Salient and in the Somme, at Vimy, Passchendaele, and Amiens. It suffered the first gas attack; its ranks were decimated as it fought at virtually every major battle in the European theatre.
From the declaration of war to the cessation of hostilities, Zuehlke follows the battalion from marshalling and training in Canada, across the Atlantic to England, and then landing in Europe. In graphic detail he takes the reader into the trenches and onto the shell-pocked battlefields, through assaults on ridges and wooded valleys. Brave Battalion is not a sweeping history of the conflict. It is rather the story of war on the ground as told through the accomplishments of a band of brothers - the Canadian Scottish - who came to represent the best of what Canada sent into battle.
©2008 Mark Zuehlke (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
On the eve of the 99th anniversary of the start of "The Great War" it is appropriate to read about WW1. I have spend the past three years reading every thing I can about WW1 as well as take on- line courses. Many of the books I have been reading review the big picture of the war or are scholarly history book. I have now start looking to regimental histories or individual stories, nonfiction or fiction. I came across this book as a semi-regimental history of one of the Canada battalions.
Zuehlke is a skilled writer but he is a journalist not a military historian. It shows. In some ways he does not understand the military but he does write a good general interest story.
On August 4, 1914 Great Britain declared war and Canada found itself at war. With a small permanent force, Canada had to rush to recruit, and train enough troops. Five of these militia units--the 72nd Scottish Highlanders of Canada from Vancouver, the 50th Gordon Highlanders of Canada from Victoria, the Seaforth Highlanders from Victoria, Winnipeg's 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada and the 91st Canadian Highlanders from Hamilton, Ont. were the first to be amalgamated into the 16th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Canadian Division, know as the Canadian Scottish Battalion. They were the first to be ship to France and fought throughout the war and served in the occupation force. This book recounts the story of this Battalion as one of Canada's premier infantry units with twenty-one battle honors to its credit. Many metals won by its men including the Victoria Cross. Fighting in battles such as Ypres, St. Julien, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele--Zuehlke constructs in vivid detail the horror and uncertainty of trench warfare. This book only covers the battalion and it's men and what they did in the war, it does not cover the big pictures or grand strategy of the war. Thomas Fawley did a great job narrating the book, loved his Scottish accent. Every one should take the time as the 100th anniversary nears to read a book about WWI "lest we forget" what to me was the greatest generation because after all they suffered in WW1 , they faced the great depression and then WWII.
The narrator was obviously American, as he pronounced words improperly, or not as they are in Canadian English. Specifically the rank of lieutenant. In the British system, it is pronounced 'lef-te-nant', not 'loo-te-nant.' This was upsetting as the officers that he spoke of were not given the respect properly afforded to them, by erroneously pronouncing the rank to which they obtained and served as.
Having read many of Mark Zuehlke's books, I am a little biased. I would say it is more convenient.
Thomas does not speak as fluidly as he might have otherwise done. As well, one little thing that was a huge annoyance was his pronounciation of Regina (Canadian commanders labelled objectives with familiar names, and commonly used city names like Sudbury, Vancouver, etc). I cringed everytime he said "Reg-eeee-na" instead "Reg-eye-nah".
I would have definitely listened to it in several LONG sittings.
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