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Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters, 1914-1918.

Douglas Haig: War Diaries and Letters 1914-1918. Gary Sheffield and John Bourne, editors. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. [pounds sterling]25.00. X + 550 pages. ISBN 0-297-84702-3. As historical work on the First World War continues so too does the investigation into the generals who commanded the Empire's troops, especially Douglas Haig. Earl Haig's diaries have been published before, by the late Lord Blake but they have long been out of print. This new edition meets the need for a 'modern, more comprehensive edition of Haig's papers that takes account of recent research'. Unlike Lord Blake, the editors have devoted their selections from the voluminous diaries on the original manuscript, and not on the later, typed version. Material from the typed version is presented within square brackets. The present editors have chosen material to emphasise the military aspect of Haig's work and not so much the political aspect, as Lord Blake did. Whilst Haig had many faults and made mistakes, he cannot be caricatured as one of the 'donkeys' who led men to their deaths. His career and achievements 'deserve sober consideration'. These selections, combined with the excellent introduction and helpful notes, show Haig in a very different light as a religious man who cared deeply for his men and who had a far more balanced military judgement than he is given credit for. His views of the drunk Asquith and the bombastic Lloyd George are refreshingly frank. These selections should do much to enable others to reach saner views. (T.B.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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