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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
I enjoyed this.

I found it balanced and easy to read. It is also well referenced and the breadth and depth of the author's research is impressive.

Haig is a figure who arouses strong emotions and the arguments about his handling of the Somme and Third Ypres will go on forever. This book puts his command into context and is scathing of his actions...
Published 5 months ago by Dev B

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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Good Soldier?
I find the title of this biography troubling, from the standpoint, that the butcher of the Somme is to be remembered as "Good." I have to wonder if the author is disappointed with Ford Maddox Ford's book by the same title. Gary Mead's biography may be balanced, but I wonder if it is a fair assessment. The author admits to being somewhat ingratiated with Douglas Haig's...
Published on 1 Aug 2009 by Dr. Watson


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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 17 July 2014
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This review is from: The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig (Paperback)
I enjoyed this.

I found it balanced and easy to read. It is also well referenced and the breadth and depth of the author's research is impressive.

Haig is a figure who arouses strong emotions and the arguments about his handling of the Somme and Third Ypres will go on forever. This book puts his command into context and is scathing of his actions where it needs to be. it is certainly not a revisionist defence.

This book gives a very good picture of Haig as a man as well as describing the social and political system in which he operated. It is dispassionate enough to let the reader make his own mind up. I found the summary in the afterword particularly good.

I cannot compare this work with any other biographies of Haig. As a stand alone work I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in the subject.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressively judicious assessment of Haig's controversial career, 25 May 2009
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MarkK (Phoenix, AZ, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig (Paperback)
There are few soldiers in British military history with a reputation as controversial as that of Douglas Haig. Lionized in his lifetime, his role as commander of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War came under attack soon after his death, becoming the head donkey whose decisions led to the unjustifiable sacrifice of a generation of British men. Though more recent scholarship has much modified this view, his career remains a battleground of historical debates, one in which every work is assigned to one side or the other.

Based on the introduction, Gary Mead's biography of Haig would seem fit into the "redemptive" side of the Haig debate. Yet in many ways it transcends such labeling, offering the most judicious account of Haig's life yet published, one interspersed with critical assessments that offer a well-rounded view of Haig's personality and career. Mead endeavors to correct many of the myths that have formed around his subject, noting, for example, his embrace of new technologies such as the tank and the airplane as they began to appear on the battlefield. Yet at the same time he proves perfectly willing to criticize Haig for his stubborn belief in the viability of cavalry and his preference for officers who shared his views rather than those who might have introduced a healthy tone of dissent into discussions over operations.

All of this makes Mead's biography well worth reading, though it is not without its flaws. Perhaps the most glaring is the lack of explanation for how Haig came to assume such a prominent position in the army. Mead's account of his subject's early years notes the relative late start to his career and is excellent on the social aspects of the late Victorian British army, yet there is little sense of what marked out Haig's rise beyond his excellent connections with key officers and the British royal family. Even his ascension to the command of the BEF is addressed in a paragraph, with no analysis of the selection process involved. More on the subsequent development of his reputation beyond what is included in the introduction and afterword would also have been helpful, particularly given the degree to which it defines Mead's own task. What examination he includes is interesting (particularly in his endnotes), but ultimately leaves the reader wanting more.

These criticisms are relatively minor, though, when compared to the author's broader achievement. With its mixture of reasoned argument and comprehensible writing, Mead has succeeded in writing the most balanced and accessible study of Haig yet available. Anyone seeking to understand Haig's much-debated career would do well to start with this book before moving on to the contentious discussions that continue about it to this day.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 July 2014
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This review is from: The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig (Paperback)
Book arrived in good time and is as described. Very happy with my purchase and the vendor.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-balanced and very readable, 16 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig (Paperback)
What I really liked about this excellent biography is its sheer readability - no mean feat when writing about such a stodgy figure as Hague. I demolished it in a few days and enjoyed it enormously. I don't claim to be a WW1 expert like some of the other reviewers, and for me a strong point of the book is that it should appeal to the average reader with a passing interest in history and biography just as much as professional historians. My one small criticism is the paucity of maps - I could have done with a few more, set in the text, to keep me orientated. Gary Mead does a particularly good job of giving a properly balanced picture. Hague may not have been a very imaginative general, but then at that time who (excepting Monash) was? On the plus side his work with the British Legion was clearly "good" in every sense. I don't see why some reviewers can't live with that - it is too trite to paint Hague black without giving weight to his many redeeming features. It is also fascinating to see how he could cope on a daily basis with the slaughter on a colossal going on in front of him. I thought this was a really good biography, and all the better for being reasonable and even-handed.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Good Soldier?, 1 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig (Paperback)
I find the title of this biography troubling, from the standpoint, that the butcher of the Somme is to be remembered as "Good." I have to wonder if the author is disappointed with Ford Maddox Ford's book by the same title. Gary Mead's biography may be balanced, but I wonder if it is a fair assessment. The author admits to being somewhat ingratiated with Douglas Haig's son, and cannot place all the cards on the table reference Haig's sanitized diary, in collusion with his wife; the casualty figures which were altered, and other fictions that have been recently uncovered, are all overlooked. Not bad, as biographies go, but not outstanding. Maybe he was just "Good;" but certainly he wasn't "Outstanding."
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The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig by Gary Mead (Paperback - 1 Nov 2008)
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