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.