The country has produced some fine generals since 1066: the soldier-kings Henry II, Edward III, Robert the Bruce and Henry V; in the 17th Century Oliver Cromwell and George Monck; James Wolfe and John Moore who fell in battle at Quebec and Corunna respectively; the great 19th Century commanders Garnet Wolseley, Frederick ‘Bob’ Roberts and Horatio Kitchener; Douglas Haig and Edmund Allenby of the First World War, and Bernard Montgomery of Alamein in the Second.
But three stand out, and for different reasons: John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, victor over the seemingly unbeatable French at Blenheim, who was as comfortable with grand strategy as he was tinkering with the nuts and bolts of military logistics; Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, a supreme organizer and master of the defensive action, who defeated Napoleon, one of the military greats, in his final battle at Waterloo; and Bill (later Viscount) Slim, the son of a shopkeeper, who turned the tide against the all-conquering Japanese in Burma in 1944, and rose to the very top of the British Army. But of the these three towering figures, who deserves the accolade of ‘the greatest’?
This stimulating long essay will provoke intense discussion among military historians as well as providing a compelling introduction to the lives of the greatest British generals.
Saul David is Professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham and the author of several critically-acclaimed history books, including The Indian Mutiny: 1857 (short-listed for the Westminster Medal for Military Literature), Zulu: The Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879 (a Waterstone's Military History Book of the Year) and, most recently, Victoria's Wars: The Rise of Empire.
Saul David also writes acclaimed historical fiction. Zulu Hart, the first in the George Hart series, was a bestseller in 2009, and the sequel, Hart of Empire, will be published in August 2010. An experienced broadcaster, Saul David has presented and appeared in history programmes for all the major TV channels and is a regular contributor to Radio 4.
His books have been widely praised.
'A first-rate historian, now a masterly story-teller' (Bernard Cornwell on ZULU HART )
'A popular historian with a rare talent . . . An unashamed crowd-pleaser with a compelling, sexy hero who could give Cornwell’s Sharpe a run for his money.' (The Times on ZULU HART )
'A Victorian adventure as big as the veldt and chewier than buffalo biltong . . . real figures of the period are endowed with motive, intent and dialogue that may be fictitious but are entirely convincing' (Sunday Telegraph on ZULU HART )
'Plenty of action and bloody death, incompetent and scheming officers, and a brace of lovely women tugging at Hart’s heart make for a terrific yarn' (Sun Herald, Australia, on ZULU HART )
'Gems like this are too rare. I was hooked in ten pages.' (Conn Iggulden on ZULU HART )
'Splendid . . . a terrific treasure-chest of anecdotes . . . a splendidly brisk, cool and judicious narrator' (Daily Telegraph on ‘Victoria’s Wars: The Rise of Empire’)
'Incisive and acute . . . thorough and occasionally revelatory, [David] always finds a telling phrase, an eye-catching detail or a human story' (Sunday Times on Victoria’s Wars: The Rise of Empire).