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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
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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.

There is a gulf between popular perceptions of Haig (in the 1990s the Daily Express launched an unsuccessful campaign to have the statue of him removed from Whitehall) and the scholarship of military historians, many of whom hold him in high regard. Those who only know about Douglas Haig from "Oh What a Lovely War" and "Blackadder Goes Forth" will, if they can overcome their prejudices, find this wonderful book a revelation
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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
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Feb 2014
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Very interesting book, a classic despite perhaps being too apologetic to Haig. But a must read for anyone interested in the Great War.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good title arrived on time for Christmas., 16 Jan 2012
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Mr. Oliver W. Davies "oliverwilliamdavies" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Bunks the idea that Haig (as well as others) was a "donkey". Revisionist history? Rather, an erudite analysis of a trained career soldier.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning Slowly, 8 Oct 2011
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G. Bainbridge "ggeb" (H/Pool) - See all my reviews
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This book is about how Haig learnt how to win World War One which from the saftey of 2011 is ok,however, if you were a tommy I think you would be rather worried incase his slow learning cost you your life
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Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier
Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier by John Terraine (Paperback - 15 Mar 1990)
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