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Customer Review

on 7 March 2010
Books about Haig tend to fall into one of two extremes, he is painted either as military idiot or the misunderstood far sighted visionary who won the war for Britain (Terraine). The vilification of Haig peaked with Dennis Winter's 'Haig's Command'. Since that date the Haig book market has been dominated by fawning 'Haigiographies' written by zealous Terrainistas driven by an urge to rehabilitate their man). What has been missing until now is an authoritative and balanced analysis of General Haig's genesis and wartime performance.

Paul Harris has now closed this ideological gap with a meticulously researched (yes, I am in a position to know) delicately nuanced and above all, balanced assessment covering not just Haig's military evolution and handling of the war but crucially his often troubled interaction with the political elite. As you might expect the analysis manages to be both academically satisfying while retaining sufficient lucidity to engage and maintain the interest the general reader, the mark of a transcendent book.
What emerges is the portrait of a fundamentally decent (if flawed) man who did his level best in circumstances that were not of his choosing. If Douglas Haig's level best fell short of what was actually required, it was not for want of effort.

Where criticism is offered, it is offered fairly. General Haig's role in the 1918 advance to victory is roundly praised while his handling of the later stages of the 1916 Somme and 1917 Ypres campaigns attracts justified criticism. Some people just can't bear the truth. The Haig Fellowship (yes, there is one) will hate it and you can safely ignore negative reviews on this site contributed by a couple of the more ardent revisionists. I have no doubt that this masterful work is destined to become the definitive biography of Douglas Haig and I recommend it for military historian and general reader alike.
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