Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review    Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It go...

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review

 

 Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It goes without saying that I'm going to have a fairly extensive WWI book collection, though I've said it just in case:). Only a handful of those books I'd class as poor or were difficult to get through, on the other hand a good number of them I thoroughly enjoyed and I'd really struggle to make a list of my top ten without feeling I'd left out many books well worthy of a place in the list. Then we have those that wouldn't just be in my top ten WWI books but be in my non-fiction military history top ten list and, finally, a handful would be vying for a place in my all time favourite books ever, no matter the subject matter or genre. Carry on reading to see where I'd place Liaison 1914.
 


 

 The book is a fairly hefty tome at 469 pages and a further 119 pages of Appendices and Index. Altogether 589 pages to delve into (see, I can count and add up). The book is a narrative of the authors time in Belgium and France as liaison officer between the British and the French. At  the time Edward Spears was a young, highly literate lieutenant with the Royal Irish Hussars, but due to his fluency in French he was made liaison officer between Field Marshal Sir John French the British Expeditionary Force commander (BEF) and the French High Command. As you can imagine, he was in a fantastic position to understand what was going on at the time, most likely better than anyone else on the Entente side at that time. This means this book, his narrative of the retreat from ⚔ Mons, a retreat that could have wiped out the BEF before they even started, would\should make an engrossing read, a real page turner...and it does, with bells on! 

 

 All the major Entente players in France and Belgium make an appearance at some point to a greater or lesser degree. He manages to bring these men, with such immense responsibility on their shoulders, to life just as well as any great author. You can really get a grasp of their personalities, including both good points and their flaws. He also manages to convey to the reader the urgency and perilous nature of the circumstances he and the Entente as whole found themselves in at the time, not helped by the inherent  mistrust (remember until now France had always been the British natural enemy and it had been Prussians i.e Germans who had saved the day for us against the French 99 years previously at Waterloo) which at times broke out into anger between Sir John French and commander of the French armies, Joseph Joffre.  This obviously didn't help the situation and it was more luck, excellent low level leadership and bravery of the men at the frontline that managed to save the day and put the Entente into a position where they could strike back, which they did do with the famous battle of ⚔ The Marne and then the so called Race to the Sea, until both sides were worn out and dug in. Digging-in created the famous trench system that ran from the northern coast right down to Switzerland, though this is beyond the scope of the book which ends on September 14th.
 

 
 For me, this book in particular really brought to life those historic days and helped me understand not only what was going on during that near disastrous period of the War but also how it must have felt on the ground for those involved. When I read military history books, memoirs in particular, I always have a feeling I'm listening to ghosts from the past, many cut down during or not long after the events told, but in a small way still alive on the pages of the book, so they aren't forgotten.

 Edward Spears was one of the first British officers in France due to the nature of his role and, over the course of the War, he continued to serve as liaison officer. He had been wounded four times by the time the War ended and had earned a chest full of medals and awards, he managed to survive the War. I truly wish he'd written several volumes to cover his entire War experience, but sadly that's not going to happen. Before his death at the good age of 87 in January 1974 he had been interviewed for the BBC's famous and "must watch" 1964 documentary The Great War and so appeared several times over the course of that excellent documentary. He also appeared in one episode of the WWII documentary, A World at War, talking about his WWII experience. If you search the web you can find some of his Great War interview clips.
 


So at the start of this review I talked about the WWI books I've read and where this one would go with regards to my top ten list. Well I can't say what number it would be but I will say it's a definite for my all time top ten books of any genre! As for just WWI books, it easily deserves a place in my top five! Anyone with the slightest bit of interest in WWI must at some point read Liaison 1914. I'd even recommend it as a great read to those who haven't shown any interest in the War, though I reckon by the end of it this would be the first book of many they'll end up reading about the War:) Go out and treat yourself to a copy, or if you know of someone who can't decide what to get you for Xmas then look no further!

Thanks for your time. Until the next time have fun, oh nearly forgot, have a Happy Xmas and New Year!

A quick mention of a good companion read A Frenchman in Khaki by P Maze
  

2 comments :

  1. "The book is a fairly hefty tome at 469 pages and a further 119 pages of Appendices and Index. Altogether 589 pages to delve into (see, I can count and add up)."

    469+119=588

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    Replies
    1. Hehe..that's so good I have to keep it in:) Good spot

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