British Butchers and Bunglers of World War One is a forceful and probing analysis of the British generals' leadership. For too long, Dr. John Laffin maintains, the military reputation of the generals has not been critically enough examined, and he asked 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 the millions - doggedly brave British Empire soldiers who, Dr Laffin believes, wounded or broken by commanders who were vain, egocentric and incompetent.
But the generals, who blamed the dead and junior in rank, cannot be excused on the grounds that there was 'nothing else they could do'. Even now, seventy years after that 'Great War of Civilization', this book raises questions that are uncomfortable. Dr Laffin draws on the memories and writings of those who took part, and quotes the judgements of other military historians to provide a lucid analysis of just what went wrong in the generals' leadership and how it resulted in such appalling and tragic losses - and concludes that they were not merely incompetent, but uncaring.
Controversial and uncomfortable, this intelligent and important book is an invaluable addition to the history of World War One, and will be read by all interested in this period of history and its influence on succeeding military campaigns.
This is a First Edition published in 1988. The dustjacket is price-clipped and has some rubbing to the (plain black) back cover.