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Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier [Paperback]

John Terraine
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Mar 1990
The author had completely free access to all Haig's private papers to provide a study of General Haig, and this work, which was first published in 1963, was considered at the time to be an important contribution in the historiography of World War I.

Product details

  • Paperback: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd; Reprint edition (15 Mar 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850527627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850527629
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.6 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,168,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

An objective and accurate re-examination of this much-maligned figure. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Terraine is the eminent military historian and author. Four of his books on the First World War are available from Cassell. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful analysis of Haig's military career 21 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Terraine was regarded by the late Richard Holmes as the finest First World War historian of all, and this book shows us why. As with all the greatest historians, Terraine has such a firm over-view of his subject-matter, that he can make even the most complex seem straight-forward, and this 500 page book is a surprisingly easy read.

We are taken through Haig's military career, first in Egypt and South Africa, then as an Edwardian staff officer, and in no time we are into the First World War. Initially the British were very much subordinate to the French, and had to fight battles (Loos and the Somme) on battlefields and at times not of their own choosing. Despite the numerous attempts of Lloyd-George to get rid of Haig, and when this wasn't possible to undermine and discredit him, we see him building up a vast well-equipped and trained army, confidently pressing on to victory in 1918. In showing Haig variously placating and confronting French generals and British politicians, we are given an insight into why the war proceeded as it did.

Terraine is not one to gloss over Haig's weaknesses, and in particular his faith in Chartaris, as head of intelligence, and Gough in 1917 in the Flanders Offensive. But Terraine believes that the allied victories in the summer and autumn of 1918 were among the most decisive in modern history, and were of Haig's doing. Postwar, Haig was philosophical as the newly re-elected Lloyd-George seldom missed an opportunity to vindictively belittle his achievements and to deny him public office. Haig dedicated himself to setting up the British Legion to help the soldiers who had fought for him, and their families.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruesome, but an excellent book 27 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Terraine does an excellent job of recording Douglas Haig's military career literally from his birth in 1861 to his death in 1928. He covers all the major campaigns Haig was involved in including the Nile campaign and South Africa. Part Two deals with the early battles of World War I, but the vast majority of the book (Part III) deals with the campaign in WWI directed under Haig as Commander-in-Chief. There is also a short epilogue on Haig's life after the war.

It says on the back of the book that Haig remains one of the most controversial figures of WWI. As Commander-in-Chief of the British Army on the Western Front he has been held responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of his own soldiers in the muddy killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.

Undeniably WWI was an extremely bloody affair, but I should think that that charge could be laid at the door of every Commander involved on the Western Front. Haig had a rather bad relationship with David Lloyd George so it doesn't surprise that the PM never had anything positive to say about Haig. Besides, the chap was a politician, which should speak for itself. The one message I took home from the book is that the British Army most of the time was rather under-equipped and understaffed. Yet Haig still managed to beat the enemy in the field. So he can't have been all that bad.

As I said I found the book rather excellent but at times it can be quite a gruesome reading.
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I struggle with Haig, but Terraine is one of those 'must reads' on the First World War. You read enough to form your own opinion and mine is that Haig deserves much of the flack that he receives; what was lacking in Britain in 1917 was a government that could have removed the Commander in Chief and replaced him with a Plumer or Rawlinson. How did Haig stay in position for so long while other leaders in the First World War became unseated? Increasingly, as original documents become more readily available online and in print then the 'scholar' will be able to read Terraine and balance his take with your own that may still totter between 'for' or 'against'.
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