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February 13 , 2011

Field Marshal Earl Haig


Douglas Haig is probably the most controversial figure in British military history. No previous commander ever oversaw such enormous casualties. By 1917 Haig commanded the largest army Britain had ever put into the field; over two million men.The horrors of the First World War still stun the imagination and make it almost impossible for the ordinary reader to reach a calm appraisal of Haig, particularly since opinions among military historians and biographers have varied widely. He has been condemned by critics as a butcher who condoned mass slaughter, while sympathetic writers have shown him as a sound professional who did astonishingly well when faced with a virtually impossible task.Philip Warner’s new biography of Haig’s is neither a eulogy nor a condemnation. It sets out to assess objectively the task Haig faced and what measure of success he achieved. In so doing Warner traces the development of a man who at the outset of his career seemed to his contemporaries merely an undistinguished, industrious junior officer, but became a leader or iron self control who presided over the army that won the most gruelling war in history.

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