This brilliant book1 is not a history. It is a series of episodes, a succession of bird’s-eye views, designed to illuminate certain facets of the great contest and to confirm the author’s thesis about the conduct, in its broadest strategic aspects, of modern warfare. There are great advantages in this procedure. Mr Churchill tells us many details of extraordinary interest, which most of us did not know before, but he does not lose himself in detail. He deals in the big with the essential problems of the higher thought of the conduct of the war. The book is written, like most books of any value, with a purpose. It does not pretend to the empty impartiality of those dull writers before whose minds the greatest and most stirring events of history can pass without producing any distinct impression one way or the other. Mr Churchill’s was, perhaps, the most acute and concentrated intelligence which saw the war at close quarters from beginning to end with knowledge of the inside facts and of the inner thoughts of the prime movers of events. He formed clear conclusions as to where lay truth and error—not only in the light of after-events. And he here tells them to us in rhetorical, but not too rhetorical, language. This naturally means telling us most where he was nearest, and criticising chiefly where he deemed himself the wisest.
KeywordsPrime Mover General Staff Distinct Impression Modern Warfare High Command
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