Author(s): John Laffin
This is a forceful and probing analysis of the British generals' leadership. For too long, John Laffin maintains, the generals' military reputation has not been examined critically enough, and he asks how those responsible for such catastrophic defeats were able to retain their commands. Haig, whose army suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, was still in command after five months more fighting and another 400,000 casualties. By the war's end the number of dead ran into millions; doggedly brave British Empire soldiers who, John Laffin believes, were killed, wounded or broken by commanders who were vain, egocentric or incompetent. But the generals, who blamed the dead and junior in rank, cannot be excused on the grounds that there was 'nothing else that they could do.' Even now, ninety years after the 'Great War for Civilization', this book raises uncomfortable questions. Dr Laffin draws on the memories and writings of those who took part and quotes other military historians to provide a lucid analysis of just what went wrong in the generals' leadership and how it resulted in such appalling losses, and concludes that they were not merely incompetent, but uncaring. Controversial, intelligent and uncompromising, this important book is an invaluable addition to the history of World War I and will be read by all interested in this period and its influence on succeeding campaigns.