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The CHIEF: Douglas Haig and the British Army
 
 

The CHIEF: Douglas Haig and the British Army [Kindle Edition]

Gary Sheffield
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Review

'Solid scholarship and admirable advocacy' Seven (Sunday Telegraph) 'A true judgement of (Haig) must lie somewhere between hero and zero, and in this detailed biography Gary Sheffield shows himself well qualified to make it... a balanced portrait.' The Sunday Times (Culture) 'Well written and persuasive biography...objective and well-rounded...this scholarly rehabilitation should be the standard biography (of Haig)' - Andrew Roberts Four stars **** Mail on Sunday 'Sheffield is very good indeed in his analysis of Haig's battles...his account of the Somme is particularly good. This is a good book and a balanced book.' The Scotsman 'Erudite reappraisal' Daily Mail 'Sheffield's excellent scholarship convincingly shows precisely why Haig died a national hero' The Times 'A well-researched and thought-provoking book' Soldier magazine 'No-one knows Haig's army better than Prof Sheffield.' Country Life

Review

'Solid scholarship and admirable advocacy' Seven (Sunday Telegraph) 'A true judgement of (Haig) must lie somewhere between hero and zero, and in this detailed biography Gary Sheffield shows himself well qualified to make it... a balanced portrait.' The Sunday Times (Culture) 'Well written and persuasive biography...objective and well-rounded...this scholarly rehabilitation should be the standard biography (of Haig)' - Andrew Roberts Four stars **** Mail on Sunday 'Sheffield is very good indeed in his analysis of Haig's battles...his account of the Somme is particularly good. This is a good book and a balanced book.' The Scotsman 'Erudite reappraisal' Daily Mail 'Sheffield's excellent scholarship convincingly shows precisely why Haig died a national hero' The Times 'A well-researched and thought-provoking book' Soldier magazine 'No-one knows Haig's army better than Prof Sheffield.' Country Life

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1083 KB
  • Print Length: 481 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1845137698
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (22 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845137345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845137342
  • ASIN: B0077FAYGG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,372 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent revisionist account 4 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback
A popular misconception of the First World War is that thousands of British soldiers were killed in futile frontal attacks because of the ineptitude of the British Army's Commander in Chief Douglas Haig.

The argument goes that Haig conducted operations from the safety of a château 40 miles behind the front line and, according to Blackadder, he was not a man to change his mind despite everyone being slaughtered in the first ten seconds.

Gary Sheffield's account goes a long way in dispelling the aforementioned misconception and is a must read for anyone interested in the First World War. Drawing from a plethora of private papers and previously untapped archival evidence Sheffield has produced an almost definitive account of Haig's career.

Haig's early career was spent serving in the Sudan and South Africa. However, his reputation was forged in the attritional struggles astride the Somme and in the mud of Flanders after taking command of the British Expeditionary Force in December 1915.

Sheffield argues that fighting on the Western Front was a learning process. It is difficult to see how else the war could have been fought. And it certainly could not have been won in any other theatre. Germany, Britain's main enemy, could only be defeated through attrition i.e. by inflicting more casualties on Germany than Britain sustained and eroding German manpower and morale quicker than Britain's manpower and morale were eroded.

Fundamentally, Haig was successful in waging this war of attrition. By 1918 Germany's manpower was running out and their moral smashed. Battles such as the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele went a long way towards achieving this end.

However, Sheffield does not completely vindicate Haig.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class 6 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written, superbly researched - Gary Sheffield's balanced view on Douglas Haig is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the Great War. This is not a revisionist whitewash of Douglas Haig, and Gary Sheffield looks in depth at Haig's strengths and weaknesses before arriving at the conclusion that Haig played a pivitol role in bringing about Allied victory in WWI. Many of the myths about Haig that have become commonplace are countered and shown to be incorrect, and Haig's earlier reputation as the man who led the BEF to victory is reaffirmed. Professor Sheffield also looks in depth at the work of Haig before and after the War, and his role in working for ex-servicemen as they struggled to re-adapt. Is this book worth 5 stars - without a shadow of a doubt and Gary Sheffield's position as the leading authority on the Great War is sustained.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read one bio on haig let it be this one 27 Mar 2012
By Mr. Pj Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
this is probably the most balanced bio I have ever read. Sheffield goes out of his way to remain objective throughout this work. He also strives to include oposing veiwpoints from those who disagree with him and the reasons. It seems to have been written by possibly the most reasonable man in the country. It is a brilliant book exposing alot of the misconceptions that still exist pertaining to the war, and haig and the overall strategy. As someone who works in a military museum and constantly have to correct the sweeping generalisations people come up with I found a very useful tool. afterall we do live in a blame culture populated by people who use soundbites as teh truth . it felt more like a explanation than a rehabilitation, like someone setting you straight on some points after they have done all the hard work of investigating the matter, and doing so without ego or agenda.

well balanced, excellently assembled research, and with an excellent pace throughout ( in otherwords It didnt get dry and stuffy) all in all its how a military bio should be written and I look forward to reading more from Mr Sheffield
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Case not proved 18 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sheffield seeks to give a balanced account of Haig's career as a soldier and CinC of British forces on the Western Front in WW1. He takes aim at several myths - Haig was stupid, he rejected technology, he did not care about the losses - and relies on a forensic analysis of sources to support his case that Haig was a highly competent general working in impossible conditions. It's not hard to rebut the caricature exemplified by the Oh What a Lovely War school, but that is an aunt Sally. Sheffield is not uncritical, but his criticisms are measured and take account of the circumstances in which Haig had to make his decisions. The boundless optimism, the repetition of failed tactics costing tens of thousands of lives, the failure to keep a grip on wayward subordinates - these are charges that Sheffield can't answer on Haig's behalf. This is a classic military historian's book, rich in the language of campaign histories and staff college analysis of battles and strategy. Death, mutilation, mud, terror, bayonets, PTSD don't figure much. The more one reads the terse, official reports of the slaughter, the more delusional they appear. The tone of the book veers into a breeziness that matches Haig's own detachment. In describing the opening of the 3rd Ypres operation in July 1917, Sheffield uses the phrase 'the campaign exploded into life' (p332). Hard to imagine a less appropriate and more bizarre description of a WW1 battle than that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fair Portrait of A Controversial Figure
Sheffield takes on the stereotype of Haig as the bungling butcher. He shows him to be a thoughtful, visionary commander. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David N Luke
1.0 out of 5 stars Feeble treatment of an important subject
Sheffield announces that his book is ‘a combination of conventional biography with an examination of Haig’s role in the context of the performance of the British army as a whole’... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rod Beecham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
We'll balanced and redresses the multitude of less researched accounts that follow Clark's Donkeys approach. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Le grand jeffinois
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
Haig commited his life to God, country and family. In an age of media savy David Patraeus style generals, whose convictions are revealed in their personal lives, it is... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Adrian Clark
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrall a very Interesting book - recommended
I'm glad I read this book and recommend it. I am not a fan of military history but was prompted to read it by the current debates around the teaching of the history of First World... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Neil Maxwell
5.0 out of 5 stars Objective & Well Balanced
This is a comprehensive and well researched account of Haig's performance as a general. Sheffield ensures that the context of Haig's generalship is set before attempting to... Read more
Published 12 months ago by The Claw
3.0 out of 5 stars Reference Book
I use this book for reference purposes. It is very well written and easy to use as a reference book
Published 15 months ago by Richard Fennell
5.0 out of 5 stars A new standard biography
This book should be the new standard work on Haig. It uses solid basic research to present an superb analysis of Haig the General and Haig the man to a 21st Century readership. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Nick Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY ME - This will not disappoint
I had never read any of Gary Sheffield's books before, however, I read a review in the BBC History Magazine and decided I must buy this. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Phil Kennedy
5.0 out of 5 stars An awakening
With so many anniversaries of the Great War soon to be upon us, this book is not before time. Haig deserves a better press than he has had since the Thirties and onward. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Rhydian Vaughan
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