This huge book is, whatever its minor flaws, a magnificent achievement by all concerned, editors, contributors and publisher. I applaud the freedom the writers have enjoyed and their resulting unfettered opinions. But I particularly applaud Holmes' rejection of the wilder, headline-grabbing school of self-interest - the Alan Clark `we should have left Hitler alone' iconoclasm. There is an awareness in much of the book of the distinction between what is right and what is expedient, and that genocide and enslavement are worse than war. The Schlieffen Plan was flawed; but it was also wrong - it violated Belgian neutrality. I find it perfectly legitimate for a military historian to exercise political and moral judgement. Alistair Horne's writing is infused with such judgements and his convictions strengthen his analysis. As the prolific Bicheno writes of Churchill's refusal to compromise with `the absolute evil' of Hitlerism...'If the old nation had to destroy itself, it could not have done so for a cause more befitting its noblest aspirations, or under a better chieftain.'
Jacqueline Buchanan, Guild of Battlefield Guides