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Blood, Sweat and Arrogance: The Myths of Churchill's War Paperback – 15 Mar 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; New Ed edition (15 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304367389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304367382
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.5 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Key episodes are... brilliantly described and lucidly explained. Corrigan also peppers his narrative with an engrossing array of military knowledge.' (Noble Frankland SPECTATOR)

'Bracing, challenging and highly informative.' (GOOD BOOK GUIDE)

'Corrigan masterfully exposes how Britain... could not prevent the Nazis storming across Europe in 1940... magnificently written... read and weep.' (TRIBUNE)

'This is an excellent book, and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the Second World War.' (Gerry Long THE BRITISH ARMY REVIEW) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Why the British forces fought so badly in World War II and who was to blame

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"What does an iconoclast do when all the icons are broken?", might be the subtitle of this book. Corrigan built his reputation on the back of his previous book, "Mud, Blood and Poppycock", a generally well-received strident attack on the "Lions led by Donkeys" critique of First World War generals. Here Corrigan, an ex-Gurkha Major, seeks to repeat his success by turning his gaze upon Winston Churchill. Unfortunately, in so doing, he demonstrates clearly the trap that faces those historians who self-consciously aim to upend all that has been thought before: either continue to do so, or fade into mediocrity. Despite claiming at the very start of his book "I have no wish to be considered an iconoclast", Corrigan thereafter sets out to be precisely that, all the time illustrating that he takes the position of a professional soldier with contempt for politicians, rather than a professional historian.

An ex-regular soldier, Corrigan is good on the purely military aspects of the build-up to and the fighting of the Second World War. For example, his narrative of the mechanisation of British cavalry, of the strengths and weaknesses of different weapons and items of equipment (tanks, guns, aircraft,) are all well worth reading. Indeed, his other contentious claim "that Britain did not perform well in the Second World War", is arguable, although the case has been better made elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Corrigan, who lists his hobbies in the cover jacket as including "pricking the pompous", has the blinkered approach of being unable to understand that, in total war, politics cannot be entirely ignored. For example, Corrigan blithely asserts that "[Churchill's] demands to sink the French fleet [in 1940 were] unnecessary, for...
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book quite quickly as it was easy to read (ie not dense in its treatment of its subject matter)and because the author touched on topics of interest to me such as Churchill's interference in military affairs (and his understanding of these), British defence policy between the wars and the performance of the British forces and commanders during World War Two.

The reason I have only given three stars is that the author, when dealing with world war two, loses sight of the main themes he wishes to discuss, with the result that the books reads like a straight forward history of world war two.

I also believe that the book judges Churchill too harshly when it comes to discussing his involvement in military affairs in the sense that little or no weight is attached the political problems Churchill faced when things were going badly for Britain and the Allies during the period June 1941-October 1942.

Montgomery is the other major figure criticised by the author and I feel again that he has been too harsh in his judgement, especially in dealing with the way that Montgomery readied the 8th army for El Alamein and his pursuit of the enemy after it.

On the whole this book is for people who already have a good understanding of the subjects it covers as they will be able to judge the validity of the author's arguments.
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Format: Paperback
"What does an iconoclast do when all the icons are broken?", might be the subtitle of this book. Corrigan built his reputation on the back of his previous book, "Mud, Blood and Poppycock", a generally well-received strident attack on the "Lions led by Donkeys" critique of First World War generals. Here Corrigan, an ex-Gurkha Major, seeks to repeat his success by turning his gaze upon Winston Churchill. Unfortunately, in so doing, he demonstrates clearly the trap that faces those historians who self-consciously aim to upend all that has been thought before: either continue to do so, or fade into mediocrity. Despite claiming at the very start of his book "I have no wish to be considered an iconoclast", Corrigan thereafter sets out to be precisely that, all the time illustrating that he takes the position of a professional soldier with contempt for politicians, rather than a professional historian.

An ex-regular soldier, Corrigan is good on the purely military aspects of the build-up to and the fighting of the Second World War. For example, his narrative of the mechanisation of British cavalry, of the strengths and weaknesses of different weapons and items of equipment (tanks, guns, aircraft,) are all well worth reading. Indeed, his other contentious claim "that Britain did not perform well in the Second World War", is arguable, although the case has been better made elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Corrigan, who lists his hobbies in the cover jacket as including "pricking the pompous", has the blinkered approach of being unable to understand that, in total war, politics cannot be entirely ignored. For example, Corrigan blithely asserts that "[Churchill's] demands to sink the French fleet [in 1940 were] unnecessary, for...
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book - and worth reading - but I was left feeling a little frustrated. It purports to debunk "the myths of Churchill's war", but rather than providing a focused critique of Churchill as a war leader, it slips into a rather generalised narrative of aspects of Britain's role in World War 2. (And very partially, too, there is almost nothing on the Far East campaigns). The author says in his introduction that his original intention was to "look at the British waging of the war as a whole", and it seemed to me that his intention changed part way through writing. To me the central thesis - that Churchill was in many ways responsible for some of the worst aspects of British performance during the war - feels rather bolted on and certainly not persuasively argued.

On the other hand I found most of the first part of the book, which covers the development (or lack of it) of British forces from the First World War through the inter-War years to be extremely well-researched and interesting. It is worth reading for this alone, but if you are expecting the book to do for Churchill what Mud Blood and Poppycock did for the myths of the First World War, you'll be disappointed. At a time when a dose of cynicism about war leaders might well be healthy, but when Churchill is still Man of the Century, that's a shame, and something of a missed opportunity.
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