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on 6 June 2014
I came across this in a bookshop in Fredericksburg , Virginia and it is one of the best buys in a long time. It's a classic for the amateur military enthusiast as well as the professional. John Keegan (I was one of the many cadets at Sandhurst that he taught) has gathered some fascinating biographies from a range of talented writers and produced a work that is both educational and entertaining in equal measure. The reader gets to learn a little more of the personality of each subject and the relationship with a Prime Minister at a critical time for both. I particularly enjoyed how well some of the lesser known figures are treated - I came away with a much greater feeling for Field Marshal Dill. If you wanted to define 'service' then perhaps you don't need to look much further than him? The joy of this anthology is that you can range back and forth and have the luxury of taking a break as necessary. It's a great one for the kitbag (or bergen). Great as a gift for a military relative or for anyone interested in this period.
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This book covers a number of Churchill's main generals, together with some add-ons like Carton de Wiaart. The authors are mostly Royal Military College Mafia, and the style is short and punchy. You are will not find an Ian Kershaw book hiding in here but some chapters are excellent (Dill for example) and all are effective at getting the outline of the man's life and career clearly in mind. I found the chapter on Percival the biggest surprise from my Big Book of Stereotypes. I thought the chapter on Monty the weakest.
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on 11 December 2008
Had this book stuck just to exploring the relationship between Churchill and his generals it might quickly have become wearying but it has a much broader reach. There is sufficient biographical detail on the 20 generals studied to give each some 'shape' apart from his military exploits.

The chapters are by different contributors yet John Keegan has done an excellent job of smoothing the edges. So although not quite seamless, the book hangs together well and covers similar ground for each general. It is a matter of minor regret that only one chapter attempts a real psychological appraisal of its general and that is borrowed from Dr Norman Dixon's "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence".

To a reader with some knowledge of 20th century conflicts and WWII in particular, the book manages to provide a quite fresh "top down" perspective lacking in many other works. Recommended.
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on 21 February 2014
Potted biographies written by insightful and passionate authors. Inspirational read on a wide variety of richly talented and dedicated individuals.
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on 25 April 2015
Fascinating book - especially Carton de Wiart.
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on 12 December 2014
Informed. The difficulty of Trained Generals dealing with a gambler with little ability in high command and a poor judgement.
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