Review published on August 19, 2017.
Following the trendy teaching of history from the 1960s, Douglas Haig has been lambasted to the point that what is being said about him does not actually reflect how the people, and soldiers of the Great War, felt about him.
In recent years, there has been a more in-depth look at Haig and how the commanders ran the various campaigns, by leading experts such as Prof. Gary Sheffield, Niall Barr and Stephen Badsey. These are the people I turn to if I wish to know and understand more about the First World War, and as an undergraduate I found their writing engaging, challenging and inspiring as they, like the writers of the essays in this book, challenge the modern conventions, look at the primary sources and dig down into other source material also. They do not make terrible glib statements that someone like Allan Clark is often guilty of.
Haig: A Re-Appraisal 80 Years On is a collection of 14 essays by some of the leading academics in Britain on the conduct of the First World War by the British. All these excellent essays look at various aspects of Haig, how he was dealt with by the historian – there is an excellent ‘Portrait of a Commander in Chief’ by John Hussay. One of the most insightful essays is that written jointly by Gary Sheffield and Niall Barr: ‘Douglas Haig, The Common Soldier and the British Legion’. This will open the eyes of those who do not know or understand Haig and the relationship he had with the soldiers of the British Army.
There is much to be learnt from this excellent text, and for any student of modern warfare and leadership, this should be a set text, as these leading scholars are blowing apart the lazy teaching of recent years and really giving us an insight into Haig without the hyperbole of late twentieth century scholars. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and it may even challenge some of your modern conceptions about Haig.
Paul Diggett 4/4
Haig: A Re-Appraisal 80 Years On by Brian Bond and Nigel Cave
Pen & Sword Military 9781844158874 pbk Jan 2009