12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating life brought to life,
This review is from: The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army (Hardcover)
Having read a couple of Gary Sheffield's books I was given "The Chief" for Christmas. Despite the lack of any maps (I understand the cartographer was given three days to do them!) the book is well-balanced and researched, portraying Haig as arguably the only man up to the job of leading an army from small beginnings in 1914 to one that was ultimately victorious in 1918, able to withstand the German Spring Offensive of that year. What sets Gary Sheffield's book apart from other books on Haig, is the way he has dealt with the criticisms of Haig (tanks, gas, cavalry, casualty figures) that have become entrenched over the years. This book should be read by any historian that blithely warbles on about the 'Blackadderesque' perception of the Great War. Haig had a difficult job to do and was probably the ONLY General who seized the moment in 1918 - effectively by not telling the politicians until he had won the war. His post war involvement in the poppy appeal showed how much he understood the sacrifices made by the troops, and the fact he refused to write his memoirs while Lloyd George attempted to vilify Haig only adds to the stature of the former and detracts from that of the latter.
Like Churchill in WW2, Haig was the man of the moment. As Gary Sheffield accepts, he made mistakes but as with the Army, Haig learnt from these mistakes. The book has been written in a way that whether new to the subject or not, the reader will come away from it with an incite to a very private man that has not previously been available. Thoroughly recommended