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The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig by [Mead, Gary]
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The Good Soldier: The Biography of Douglas Haig Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Review

The best and fairest biography of Haig that I have read. -- Allan Massie Daily Telegraph A subtle treatment of Haig's complex character... Mead's Haig is not a marble statue, nor a caricature butcher and bungler, but a man of very human strengths and weaknesses. The Good Soldier is the most successful attempt yet at disentangling the historical Douglas Haig from the twin excesses of Haigiography and donkeydom... Very readable. -- Gary Sheffield TLS Engrossing... Here at last comes some redress for perhaps the most maligned of the principal actors in that tragedy [of] the First World War. -- Mary Skipwith Field

About the Author

Gary Mead was a journalist for the Financial Times for ten years and has worked extensively with the BBC. He is the author of The Doughboys: America and the First World War (2000).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4419 KB
  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (4 Sept. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00L0LXZX2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #467,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gary Mead's brilliantly written and compelling biography of one of this country's most controversial generals is likely to become the definitive work on Field Marshall Haig. With opinion still bitterly divided between those who see Haig as a 'good soldier', doing his job to the best of his ability under extreme conditions (as Mead suggests) or simply the butcher of millions, this is the kind of even handed biography that is needed right now. It succeeds in rising above some of this endless controversy to paint a portrait of a man who was complex, introverted, Victorian in outlook and at best hard to fathom. It is no coincidence that the book is subtitled 'the' biography of Douglas Haig for the simple reason that no on has ever before quite captured the essence of the man - until Mead's biography, that is.

There is no doubt that Haig believed in what he was doing and fighting for and Mead captures the man's persona through a combination of diligent research (the material on the First World War must be truly gargantuan) and a style of writing that is at once effortless, engaging and easy to follow. Despite the difficulties in describing complex battlefield manoeuvres (and the pros and cons of certain types of explosive shell that at times left me a tad confused) Mead still manages to sustain a forward momentum in his narrative that is constantly captivating and demands that you read on.

The two brilliant central chapters of the book, on the Somme and Passchendaele, bring the horror of war into sharp relief and help place Haig's sometimes impossible position as C-in-C in a new light. His dealings with the ever difficult French and the pesky Lloyd George make you wonder how we ever got through it all as eventual victors.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In `The Good Soldier', Mead has taken on seemingly insuperable odds and won. Could there be a character less sympathetic to the age we find ourselves in? How, in an `anti-war' and above all `anti-THAT-war' environment, do you hope to determine whether someone whose "name today is still synonymous with pointless expenditure of life in conditions of ghastly filth" is worth de-demonising, and still command a reader's attention? How, when celebrity is all and available to all, can you hope to persuade a contemporary audience to connect with a "tongue-tied Scots cavalryman", "without sparkle", who had "no charlatanism in his nature", and - beyond today's pale - came from old money and was not averse to pulling a string or two to assist his progress up the slippery military pole.? Mead therefore rather understates his task: "he is a hard character to like, not least because `being liked' was never very high on his list of ambitions." Yet he pulls it off, quite simply by telling his story, simply. And by the end of this tour de force - from Aldershot to South Africa, from India to the killing fields of Flanders - you feel something for a leader of men who showed little feeling. And something a lot less for Haig's peers - like Lloyd George and Churchill - who more readily strike a chord with "today's society, one in which public figures, at the drop of a hat, lay bare their souls, beat their breasts, thump tubs, even if they have very little to say." This is a very `good' book, indeed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long been interested in both world wars and in particular the major tragidies of the 1st war. This book intregued me because up untilnow I saw Haig as the main culprit behind the deaths of 100 of 100's of men. This book gives a quality insider version of Haig as the man who tried to win the war without the devestation that eventually ensued. There is nothing I don't really like about this book because as I said I wanted the warts and all insite into Haigs life and career during these tragic times.
I can also recommend the seller for a fast and quality service.
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Format: Hardcover
This biography of Douglas Haig replaces the often hated figure blamed for much of the slaughter of British men in WW1 (though a hero in his lifetime) with a human being - though still one hard for a modern reader to feel close to. I would recommend it whole-heartedly and especially to those who, like me, have only just started trying to get to grips with the confusion and horror of the First World War. Haig has always seemed hopelessly mired in this, after all the 'Lions led by Donkeys' accounts.

So in a way I started reading as a duty rather than a pleasure, feeling that I ought to understand the man and his times better. Military stuff hasn't in the past been my favourite reading matter, and Haig was above all a soldier, hence the title with its complex associations.

But this is a pleasure to read, because it is brilliantly well-written - lucid, not show-offy - and as far as I can judge, balanced and accurate, as well as challenging to modern preconceptions. Mead writes about Haig as a man, trained in the Victorian era, confronting the new kind of warfare that was a shock to every general; he shows how his stolid personality interacted with others, such as, crucially for the conduct of the war and for Haig's post-war reputation, his antagonist Lloyd George.

He does not gloss over Haig's responsibility for some of the costly mistakes that led to the disastrous losses on the Somme and at Passchendaele, but he shows how difficult it would have been for others who were around at the time to do better. And the quirks of Haig's home life, with his sister Henrietta taking him to seances, and never quite getting over his marriage to his much younger wife, are sometimes funny - though Mead, to his credit, never overdoes this aspect or goes for the easy sneer.
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