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.
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
While perusing the history section I came across this title which was in the very small Canadian enclave. As a military history buff I was interested enough to put my audible credit down and give it a try. I wish that I could actually give this book a good and fair review but I'm sorry to say that the performance was so distractingly bad that I'm probably not qualified to tell how good the book actually is. Honestly, probably 4 hours into it ( what can I say I'm a completionist ) and there are huge reams of this recording I could tell you nothing about because I had been so distracted by the presenters absolute lack of knowledge about how to pronounce the names of famous Canadians along with Canadian cities, provinces and prime ministers. Ok, now I know someone is going to say that, being Canadian, I'm overly touchy here but honestly, who is this book about Canadian Military history likely to be read by? Canadians right? So don't you think you should do a little research? If you don't know how to pronounce Aurelia thats one thing, but you can't pronounce Vancouver? You're killing me. And its Byng, as in "Bing", rhymes with ring, not any of the dozen ways it was pronounced here. Sooooooo many of these.
Ok ok, I'll cool down for a moment. Wait. What? He's doing what? No. You can't be serious. Yep. He's doing impressions, he is faking French, Scotch, English and German accents. I really didn't even know what to say at this point. I'm realitively new to audio books but outside of a children's book I've never heard anything like this.
I hate sounding like a total jerk, and if this had been something from Libravox or any free/volunteer based recording I would have just skipped it and moved on but when someone is charging for this I had to say something.
Sorry Thomas Fawley, this was just not your finest hour.
How could the performance have been better?
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
I could only assume it would be a comedy and I'm more of the drama type.
Any additional comments?
Please audible, have someone else record this book! You are charging money for this !
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I should have just read this one. I'm intensely disappointed in the quality of narration. He seemed to do no prep work before narrating, miss pronouncing so many place and peoples names, then insisted on using unbearable accents for quotes. I've read other works by Mark Zuehlke, I'll go back to the print.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The story is great, and well worth the buy. However, the narrator makes so many pronunciation errors, one suspects that the narrator has never lived in Canada. Not knowing how to pronounce Canadian cities is off-putting, but overall, the story is great. Do order it!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I'm a history buff and with the recent 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, I was looking for a book about the Canadian experience in WWI. This was a great book, and I learned much about our wonderful Canadian military.
The performance left me wanting more, however. The pronunciation of French place names and words was generally very poor (I'm a native French speaker and often could not tell what town or village the reader was talking about). In addition, two very Canadian names stood out as being incorrectly pronounced repeatedly: PM Wilfred Laurier was called "Looriay" instead of "Lawriay" (in an approximation of phonetics); and the city is called VanCOUver, not VANcouver... this gets very annoying to a Canadian, after a while.
The story is fascinating- some sections can be a bit dry, but overall I do recommend this to those who want to learn more about Canada's valiant men who fought in WWI.
Well written and well narrated book. Only thing I was missing were maps of battles but with audio book they are nor so easy to show :)
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.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Brave Battalion to be better than the print version?
Having read many of Mark Zuehlke's books, I am a little biased. I would say it is more convenient.
What aspect of Thomas Fawley’s performance would you have changed?
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".
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I would have definitely listened to it in several LONG sittings.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful