Haig's Command (Penguin Classic Military History)

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9780141390932: Haig's Command (Penguin Classic Military History)

Denis Winter sets out to expose and analyze a major historical fraud. His theme is the Western Front in Haig's time - from the Somme to the Armistice - and he has uncovered evidence that the documents from which previous histories have been written are tampered-with and often entirely rewritten versions of the truth. For example, a daily war diary was kept by all units up to GHQ and these were often altered by the cabinet office and crucial appendices totally removed; cabinet war minutes were likewise rewritten, With reference to whole meetings often removed. Records such as Haig's own diary were also tampered with, and Denis Winter even claims to have found documents which the war's official historian thought he had deliberately destroyed in the 1940s. Denis Winter's material includes minutes of "missing" cabinet meetings, and other material.

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About the Author:

Denis Winter was born in 1940. After reading History at Pembroke College, Cambridge he taught in London for twenty years. His other books on the First World War are DEATH'S MEN and THE FIRST OF THE FEW which were also published by Penguin.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A bold, revisionist history of Earl Haig, British commander- in-chief during WW I. Using British records that became available only in the 1960's, and comparing them to uncensored versions available in Canada, Australia, and the US, Winter subjects the authorized British version of the war to devastating analysis. For a variety of reasons, including Haig's close involvement with Britain's Official Historian of the war, it was Haig's view of the war that won acceptance, apparently sometimes by purging British records of any evidence to the contrary. Haig himself, far from being the most able soldier of his generation, is shown to have used his social connections to get unusually rapid promotion and to have excluded able subordinates. The picture of the British Army that emerges from the new documentation illuminates the reasons for the dreadful losses of the war. For all its courage and discipline, it was a badly organized, poorly trained, and ill-equipped force, supported by staff work of low quality and commanded by generals inadequate to the task. For example, by the end of the war the dominance of the machine-gun was clear; but where the French had one for every 12 men, the Canadians one for 13, and the Americans one for 27, the British limited their troops to one for 61. Winter analyzes Haig's command in each of the major battles of the war, from the Somme and Passchendaele to the final campaign of 1918, and this same inadequacy becomes apparent in each of them: attacks against the enemy's strongest point; the use of discredited tactics; persistence in attack long after all surprise had been lost. It was a performance notably inferior to that of the Germans, the French, the Canadians, and the Australians. Excellent, hard-hitting history. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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