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The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army Hardcover – 1 Aug 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (1 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136918
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Solid scholarship and admirable advocacy' Seven (Sunday Telegraph) 'A true judgement of (Haig) must lie somewhere between hero and zero, and in this detailed biography Gary Sheffield shows himself well qualified to make it... a balanced portrait.' The Sunday Times (Culture) 'Well written and persuasive biography...objective and well-rounded...this scholarly rehabilitation should be the standard biography (of Haig)' - Andrew Roberts Four stars **** Mail on Sunday 'Sheffield is very good indeed in his analysis of Haig's battles...his account of the Somme is particularly good. This is a good book and a balanced book.' The Scotsman 'Erudite reappraisal' Daily Mail 'Sheffield's excellent scholarship convincingly shows precisely why Haig died a national hero' The Times 'A well-researched and thought-provoking book' Soldier magazine 'No-one knows Haig's army better than Prof Sheffield.' Country Life

About the Author

One of Britain’s leading military historians, GARY SHEFFIELD is Professor of War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. He has written a number of critically acclaimed and commercially successful books on the First World War including Forgotten Victory: The First World War – Myths and Realities. He is the co-editor of Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters 1914-18.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written, superbly researched - Gary Sheffield's balanced view on Douglas Haig is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the Great War. This is not a revisionist whitewash of Douglas Haig, and Gary Sheffield looks in depth at Haig's strengths and weaknesses before arriving at the conclusion that Haig played a pivitol role in bringing about Allied victory in WWI. Many of the myths about Haig that have become commonplace are countered and shown to be incorrect, and Haig's earlier reputation as the man who led the BEF to victory is reaffirmed. Professor Sheffield also looks in depth at the work of Haig before and after the War, and his role in working for ex-servicemen as they struggled to re-adapt. Is this book worth 5 stars - without a shadow of a doubt and Gary Sheffield's position as the leading authority on the Great War is sustained.
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Format: Paperback
A popular misconception of the First World War is that thousands of British soldiers were killed in futile frontal attacks because of the ineptitude of the British Army's Commander in Chief Douglas Haig.

The argument goes that Haig conducted operations from the safety of a château 40 miles behind the front line and, according to Blackadder, he was not a man to change his mind despite everyone being slaughtered in the first ten seconds.

Gary Sheffield's account goes a long way in dispelling the aforementioned misconception and is a must read for anyone interested in the First World War. Drawing from a plethora of private papers and previously untapped archival evidence Sheffield has produced an almost definitive account of Haig's career.

Haig's early career was spent serving in the Sudan and South Africa. However, his reputation was forged in the attritional struggles astride the Somme and in the mud of Flanders after taking command of the British Expeditionary Force in December 1915.

Sheffield argues that fighting on the Western Front was a learning process. It is difficult to see how else the war could have been fought. And it certainly could not have been won in any other theatre. Germany, Britain's main enemy, could only be defeated through attrition i.e. by inflicting more casualties on Germany than Britain sustained and eroding German manpower and morale quicker than Britain's manpower and morale were eroded.

Fundamentally, Haig was successful in waging this war of attrition. By 1918 Germany's manpower was running out and their moral smashed. Battles such as the Somme, Arras and Passchendaele went a long way towards achieving this end.

However, Sheffield does not completely vindicate Haig.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this is probably the most balanced bio I have ever read. Sheffield goes out of his way to remain objective throughout this work. He also strives to include oposing veiwpoints from those who disagree with him and the reasons. It seems to have been written by possibly the most reasonable man in the country. It is a brilliant book exposing alot of the misconceptions that still exist pertaining to the war, and haig and the overall strategy. As someone who works in a military museum and constantly have to correct the sweeping generalisations people come up with I found a very useful tool. afterall we do live in a blame culture populated by people who use soundbites as teh truth . it felt more like a explanation than a rehabilitation, like someone setting you straight on some points after they have done all the hard work of investigating the matter, and doing so without ego or agenda.

well balanced, excellently assembled research, and with an excellent pace throughout ( in otherwords It didnt get dry and stuffy) all in all its how a military bio should be written and I look forward to reading more from Mr Sheffield
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Haig commited his life to God, country and family. In an age of media savy David Patraeus style generals, whose convictions are revealed in their personal lives, it is heartwarming, and encouraging, to read of real men like Haig. The man Haig is seen in the fruits of his life faithfully recorded in this book. This is a story of a wise man. Determined, with an agile mind, open to exploiting technoligical advances to defeat the foe. Noble, dignified and reserved.

I don't know much of Lloyd-George, save he was reputedly a adulterer. We learn in the book that Lloyd George made unfavourable comments regarding Haig's generalship in his memoirs but not until Haig had died. In another era that would be seen as cowardice. Lloyd George and his socialist politcal classmates were content to sacrifice Haig on the alter of their political ideology and the liberal intelligencia have been in their employ ever since. Having now read the book I am struck by the heartlessness of the popular caricatures of Haig.

Every life that was lost on the fields of Flanders is a terrible loss and we have reason to believe that Haig was grieved by these losses. He was a soldier, he had led men into battle, he knew his men. This book allows one to get to know the persona and character of Haig. And now I know the Chief I really don't think that he would allow his detractors to trouble him. He was a humble man, not one to be troubled by the political machinations of man.
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