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February 28 , 2010

Architect of Victory

Douglas Haig


A thoughtful reassessment' - Stand To! 'Sharp and clear...swift and surefooted' - The Scotsman 'A careful biographer' - Times Literary Supplement 'Those new to the Haig debate will receive a good introduction. Those already familiar with the subject matter will enjoy Reid's writing style and reflective moments' - The British Army Review 'An outstanding success. The argument is beautifully presented and written in very clear English. This is a substantial work which follows the rules of classical biography' - Politique étrangère Douglas Haig's popular image as an unimaginative butcher is unenviable and unmerited. In fact, he masterminded a British-led victory over a continental opponent on a scale that has never been matched before or since. Contrary to myth, Haig was not a cavalry-obsessed, blinkered conservative, as satirised in Oh! What a Lovely War and Blackadder Goes Forth. Fascinated by technology, he pressed for the use of tanks, enthusiastically embraced air power, and encouraged the use of new techniques involving artillery and machine-guns. Above all, he presided over a change in infantry tactics from almost total reliance on the rifle towards all-arms, multi-weapons techniques that formed the basis of British army tactics until the 1970s. Prior re-evaluations of Haig's achievements have largely been limited to monographs and specialist writings. Walter Reid has written the first biography of Haig that takes into account modern military scholarship, giving a more rounded picture of the private man than has previously been available. What emerges is a picture of a comprehensible human being, not necessarily particularly likeable, but honourably ambitious, able and intelligent, and the man more than any other responsible for delivering victory in 1918.
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