• Fire and Movement

  • The British Expeditionary Force and the Campaign of 1914
  • By: Peter Hart
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 18 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The dramatic opening weeks of the Great War passed into legend long before the conflict ended. The British Expeditionary Force fought a mesmerizing campaign, outnumbered and outflanked but courageous and skillful, holding the line against impossible odds, sacrificing themselves to stop the last great German offensive of 1914.

A remarkable story of high hopes and crushing disappointment, the campaign contains moments of sheer horror and nerve-shattering excitement, pathos and comic relief, occasional cowardice and much selfless courage - all culminating in the climax of the First Battle of Ypres. And yet, as Peter Hart shows in this gripping and revisionary look at the war's first year, for too long the British part in the 1914 campaigns has been veiled in layers of self-congratulatory myth: a tale of poor unprepared Britain, reliant on the peerless class of her regular soldiers to bolster the rabble of the unreliable French Army and defeat the teeming hordes of German troops. But the reality of those early months is in fact far more complex - and ultimately, Hart argues, far more powerful than the standard triumphalist narrative.

Fire and Movement places the British role in 1914 into a proper historical context, incorporating the personal experiences of the men who were present on the front lines. The British regulars were indeed skillful soldiers, but as Hart reveals, they also lacked practice in many of the required disciplines of modern warfare, and the inexperience of officers led to severe mistakes. Hart also provides a more accurate portrait of the German Army they faced - not the caricature of hordes of automatons, but the reality of a well-trained and superlatively equipped force that outfought the BEF in the early battles - and allows listeners to come to a full appreciation of the role of the French Army, without whom the Marne never would have been won.

©2015 Peter Hart (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Fire and Movement

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The voice artist gets in the way

Unfortunately the voice artist ruins this for me. His need to "perform" this book makes him adopt an accent for each quoted passage. It's initially hilarious when he puts on his Winston Churchill voice, but the hilarity runs thin when he adopts French and German accents and it becomes utterly cringe-worthy. Given that the chief selling point of this book is the research Peter Hart has done in assembling various accounts of this campaign, it's sad that the listener, instead of welcoming an extract from an original source, realises that a quoted passage is on the way and thinks "Oh dear... I wonder what awful accent he's going to trot out now".
But this is something one could get used to. What one cannot get used to is the growing awareness that the voice artist doesn't really understand what he's "performing". This means that, in a completely understandable effort to keep the exercise interesting, he tries to "pep up" the reading. Unfortunately this means that he'll randomly emphasize words (as if trying to startle us awake). This random emphasis, particularly startling when all that is being read out is a list, is perpetually fighting the actual meaning of the text, pulling one out of Hart's writing and into Reynolds' improv performance.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Book Ruined By Narration

One hates writing a review like this, especially knowing how much a narrator puts into his or her work. The narrator for this book was the wrong choice. I've listened to him before and he was great. This just doesn't suit his strength. This is about the British Expeditionary Force in 1914, and it shows the highs and far deeper lows the British army experiences during the first year of the Great War. It is surely something no one expects, as expressed in their recollections. Unfortunately the narrator treats it as a work to try out as many accents as possible. That's not that uncommon, but not to this degree and with over dramatization. This is not a stage act, and he's trying to read it as such. There for it is so distracting as to lose focus altogether. This one might better be physically read. But once again, Peter Hart is a master of World War I military history.

1 person found this helpful

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stop doing accents on quotes


that really bothers me, as it makes it harder to understand what they are saying when you lay on a thick French or German accent over important information

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 05-14-15

Excellent account, poor delivery

Would you consider the audio edition of Fire and Movement to be better than the print version?

The audiobook was somewhat spoiled for me by the delivery by the narrator. This was especially bad when it came to interpreting the first hand accounts. Poor delivery of English regional accents, sometimes attributed poorly and awful interpretation of French, German accents. I imagine General Foch is turning in his grave at the dreadful Allo Allo style representation of his voice

What did you like best about this story?

It is a different account and interpretation of the evidence of the BEF in 1914. There are no rose tinted spectacles and it is very good to have a fresh IWW of it

Would you be willing to try another one of Tim Gerard Reynolds’s performances?

Never!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

2 people found this helpful

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  • R J Moore
  • 02-06-17

A refreshing Look At The BEF 1914

Any additional comments?


The story of the B.E.F from it's deployment in August 1914 up to the 1st battle of Eypres and the turn of the year is well known and the subject of a number of books, many of which I have read.
This is a refreshing look at events and places the "BEF story" we are familiar with into context as only part of the much bigger confrontation of much bigger events.
Would recommend this to both those with some knowledge and those looking at the Great War for the first time.

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  • peter
  • 04-23-15

great history and first hand accounts.

Brilliant written and very well read. Emotionally stirring first hand accounts from the high command and front line soldiers1914.

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  • Ed Zahner
  • 08-24-18

Great piece of history

Very enlightening piece of history, brilliantly researched and edited. Extremely well read. Can't wsit to hear more similar works.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ken C
  • 11-20-18

Excellent book.

Well researched and entertaining in presentation. A genuinely good book to have. Highly recommended for anyone interested in early WW1.