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Haig's Generals (Pen & Sword Military) Hardcover – 19 Jan 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd (19 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844151697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844151691
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 627,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A reader with a general interest in the First World War will find this a highly enjoyable and stimulating work. -News Letter (Belfast) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Professor Ian F. W . Beckett is Professor of History at University College, Northampton. His publications include The Great War, 1914-18, The First World War: The Essential Guide to Sources in the UK National Archives, A Nation in Arms: A Social Study of the British Army in the First World War and The Oxford History of the British Army Steven J. Corvi research has concentrated on the First World War and on British military institutions, and he has made a special study of the generalship of Horace Smith-Dorrien.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chris Baker VINE VOICE on 26 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
By mid 1916 the British forces in France and Flanders were so large that they had been subdivided into five Armies, each larger than the original BEF that had sailed in August 1914. It curious that the men who led these Armies, and their chiefs of staff, have been rather neglected when it comes to scholarly biographies and analyses. Although several of them wrote autobiographies or memoirs, few have received more than a passing interest. Horne, commander of First Army, had nothing at all about him until quite recently; Byng and Plumer were subjects of single good modern biographies only in the last two decades; Monro and Birdwood get hardly a mention; only Rawlinson and Gough have received significant attention and one suspects that has been more driven by their failures than by their successes.

Rather like "Haig: a reappraisal 80 years on" that I recently reviewed, this is a collection of papers, one covering each General in turn, by leading contemporary historians including Gary Sheffield, Simon Robbins, John Bourne and Peter Simpkins. The various studies examine the background and temperament of the man, his relationships with Haig, his peers, staffs and subordinates.

Some themes will serve to frustrate the "lions led by donkeys" school. These men were experienced soldiers, who rose to their command through demonstration of capability. Their backgrounds and personalities varied greatly, with inevitable consequences for their relationships and actions. Two were sacked (Gough perhaps unfairly in 1918, although there is a case that he should have gone much earlier; Allenby in 1917, sidelined to Palestine where he turned out rather well), one more at least (Plumer) came close to the same fate.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael MCCARTHY VINE VOICE on 16 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
For those who subscribe to the "Haig was an incompetent butcher" opinion, this book will perhaps open minds and bring the realities of Haig's situation into focus.
No doubt Haig had shortcomings. Who of us has not? However this book draws the reader into obvious comparisons with how any CEO would run a large organisation. The permanent dilemma between exercising strong personal control over detail or allowing able and proven subordinates to make and take decisions, was ever present for Haig. Taking the Corporation analogy forward, he had to balance the opinions and plans of his subordinates with the ever present (and changing) demands of an untrusting Chairman of the Board (Lloyd George).
This book allows the reader to follow the tactical plans offered by Haig's generals with the strategic world in which Haig was compelled to live. Demanding more of Rawlinson's plans for the Somme than perhaps tactical objectives suggested appropriate. Pushing Plumer to continue at 3rd Ypres when 20/20 hindsight offered alternatives.
The common thread is that Haig's ability to wage war effectively was conditioned by the destruction and eventual re-creation of the British Army into the magnificent and very large fighting force of 1918 that eventually carried him through to victory. Also the politicians and the technology and tactics, all of which were not in harmony until after March 1918. These essays on Haig's Generals will assist any battle guide or researcher seeking to give colour to the men behind the reputations.

Mike McCarthy
Editor, 'The Battle Guide'
Guild of Battlefield Guides
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MarkK TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2010
Format: Hardcover
For decades the generals who commanded the armies of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War have been subjected to considerable criticism in both the popular and scholarly media. Long derided as "butchers and bunglers", they were typically viewed as unimaginative fools who callously presided over the slaughter of a generation. In recent years, however, these much maligned figures have enjoyed something of a rehabilitation, as a number of historians have argued that the British military leadership was far more innovative in their application of new tactics and technologies to break the stalemate on the Western Front than they have been often credited, and that the army was just beginning to profit from the benefits of this when the war came to an end.

Ian Beckett and Steven Corvi's book can be categorized as part of this rehabilitative effort. A collection of short biographies written by different historians, it offers a reexamination of the nine generals who commanded armies during Haig's tenure as the commander of the BEF. As a collaborative work it bears the idiosyncracies typical of a project, but all of the chapters share a sympathetic attitude towards their subject, with each focusing on a particular action that serves as a case study for their interpretation. For the most part the treatment manages to be both sympathetic yet even-handed, as only occasionally (as in the case of John Lee's chapter on William Birdwood) do they come across as excessively partisan.

Yet despite his presence on nearly every page, one person seems curiously absent - Haig himself. While the focus is properly on the generals under his command, the analysis of their roles and performance invariably touches on their relationship with Haig.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Offers sympathetic reevaluations of the "butchers and bunglers" 2 Jan. 2010
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For decades the generals who commanded the armies of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War have been subjected to considerable criticism in both the popular and scholarly media. Long derided as "butchers and bunglers", they were typically viewed as unimaginative fools who callously presided over the slaughter of a generation. In recent years, however, these much maligned figures have enjoyed something of a rehabilitation, as a number of historians have argued that the British military leadership was far more innovative in their application of new tactics and technologies to break the stalemate on the Western Front than they have been often credited, and that the army was just beginning to profit from the benefits of this when the war came to an end.

Ian Beckett and Steven Corvi's book can be categorized as part of this rehabilitative effort. A collection of short biographies written by different historians, it offers a reexamination of the nine generals who commanded armies during Haig's tenure as the commander of the BEF. As a collaborative work it bears the idiosyncracies typical of a project, but all of the chapters share a sympathetic attitude towards their subject, with each focusing on a particular action that serves as a case study for their interpretation. For the most part the treatment manages to be both sympathetic yet even-handed, as only occasionally (as in the case of John Lee's chapter on William Birdwood) do they come across as excessively partisan.

Yet despite his presence on nearly every page, one person seems curiously absent - Haig himself. While the focus is properly on the generals under his command, the analysis of their roles and performance invariably touches on their relationship with Haig. Given the reevaluation being undertaken by the authors, the work might have been stronger had there been a seperate entry on Haig, or at least a chapter assessing his overall role within the BEF. Without it, the chapters are nine useful threads that need to be tied together in order to properly support the case that the overall assessment of these men has been unfair. It is the major limitation in what is otherwise a useful reassessment of men who have at times been judged unfairly for their efforts to grapple with the changing demads of the new ways of warfare on the Western Front.
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