Collier, Basil.


1st ed., 1961. 362 pp., 16 photo-plates + 13 maps. D.j., 22 x 14cm. V.G.+. When the author began to gather material for Brasshat he shared the widely accepted view that the late Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson was a political general – a ruthless wirepuller whose irresponsible ambition embroiled Britain in the First World War without a sound strategic plan, and who later conspired with Lloyd George to get himself made Chief of the Imperial Staff and (unsuccessfully) to oust Sir Douglas Haig. More than two years of research proved to the author that Wilson was not only one of the most selfless of public men but by far the ablest British soldier of his day – a brilliant military thinker whose tactical insight as a youngish brigade major in South Africa came near averting the disaster of Spion Kop. The legend that Wilson intrigued against his fellow-soldiers in his own interests stems largely, the author believes, from the ill will of one man and the credulity of Neville Lyttelton and Douglas Haig. It also received fresh impetus from Wilson’s post-war quarrel with Lloyd George. Furthermore, an inveterate diarist who wrote only for himself, Sir Henry Wilson was ill served by the premature publication of incomplete extracts from his diaries. Owing to the vast mass of material at the author’s disposal we now see Wilson in a new light.

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