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Book Recommendations Wanted


mordac
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Hi All:

I'm looking for a couple of book recommendations please. I'd like some suggestions for a good biography on the lives of Gen. Sir Henry Horne (commander First Army) and Gen. Sir Herbert Plumer (commander Second Army). Also looking for recommendations on books that examine each of the above general's command during the Great War; more academic than popular history.

Many thanks.

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Both Horne and Plumer get a chapter each in Haig's Generals, edited by Ian Beckett and Steven Corvi, Pen & Sword, 2006. For something more in-depth, there's only one full scale biography of Horne, The Silent General: Horne of the First Army, by Don Farr, Helion, 2007. For Plumer, try either Plumer of Messines, by Charles Harington, Murray, 1935, or Plumer: The Soldier's General, by Geoffrey Powell, Leo Cooper, 1990.

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Simon Robbins is finishing a biography of Horne. He catalogued the Horne papers at the IWM. He had a sabbatical to work on the catalogue and the book coming out of it.

Bryn

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Which just goes to prove what I've always said about Horne biographies Bryn - they're like buses; you don't see one then two come along at once.

Seriously though, that's interesting news. The lack of published material on Horne was always a gap in the historiography - partly explained of course, as Simon Robbins points out in his essay on Horne in Haig's Generals, by the fact that Horne kept no diary and his wife destroyed his letters.

Best,

George

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Which just goes to prove what I've always said about Horne biographies Bryn - they're like buses; you don't see one then two come along at once.

Seriously though, that's interesting news. The lack of published material on Horne was always a gap in the historiography - partly explained of course, as Simon Robbins points out in his essay on Horne in Haig's Generals, by the fact that Horne kept no diary and his wife destroyed his letters.

Best,

George

George

That would have made it flippin' hard for him to produce a catalogue of his papers then, wouldn't it? Or easy.

In June last year, Simon talked to our History Group. The details were:-

IWM History Group Meeting: Simon Robbins: The Silence of General HorneDr Simon Robbins has been an Archivist at the Imperial War Museum since 1989. Having studied History at Nottingham University and War Studies at King's College London, he completed his doctoral thesis at King's College London, which was published as British Generalship on the Western Front, 1914-18: Defeat Into Victory and short-listed for the Templer Medal for Military Literature. He is also the co-author of Staff Officer, the Diaries of Walter Guinness (First Lord Moyne), 1914-18 and Haig’s Generals. His forthcoming book is British Generalship during the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929).

His talk, The Silence of General Horne, will be on the career of General Sir Henry (later Lord) Horne, with an emphasis on how the recent acquisition of his papers has allowed a reappraisal of his reputation and in particular his command of the 2nd Division (1915), the XV Corps (1915-16) and the First Army (1916-19) on the Western Front during the First World War. Thanks to the patronage of Sir Douglas Haig and Sir William Robertson, Horne rose rapidly from relative obscurity through the ranks of the BEF’s hierarchy. His personality and performance as a member of the British high command, which slowly developed and matured into a successful cadre of leaders during the war, sheds much light on the ethos of that group of senior officers and on how the victories of the British Armies prior to the Armistice in November 1918 were achieved. Although best known for capturing Vimy Ridge in 1917, Horne deserves to be and should be better known for his achievements during the last Hundred Days of the war.

His papers seemed to include (in fact mainly consist of) his letters to his wife. Mainly requests for socks ... Well, perhaps a bit more...

The Documents departmental catalogue says:-

Horne of Stirkoke General Lord GCB KCMG

9 volumes of his interesting and detailed ms letters written to his wife, January 1900 and July 1900 (2 letters), July 1902 - August 1902 (3 letters), and August 1914 - September 1919 (897 letters) recording his service with the Royal Artillery in the South African War and with the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front as commander of the Royal Artillery of I Corps (August 1914 - December 1914); the 2nd Division (January 1915 - November 1915); XV Corps in the Canal Zone of Egypt (November 1915 - April 1916) and in France (April 1916 - September 1916); and the First Army (September 1916 - March 1919) and commenting on the major battles in which he was involved in, notably Mons (August 1914), the Aisne (September 1914), Ypres (October 1914 - November 1914), Givenchy (March 1915), Festubert (May 1915), Loos (September - November 1915), the Somme (July 1916 - September 1916), Vimy Ridge (April 1917), Lens (August 1917), the Lys (April 1918), and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line and the passage of the Canal du Nord (September 1918); the progress of the war; his career; members of his staff and other senior personalities, notably, as one of his principal lieutenants, his patron and fellow Scot, Field Marshal Earl Haig; the novel problems of trench warfare; the assimilation of innovations, such as new weapons, tactics and training methods; and the difficulties posed by the German defences; and shedding much light on his own character, off duty entertainment (notably hunting) and family matters as well as the attitudes and ethos of the British Army.

Perhaps she couldn't find the Swan Vestas.

Bryn

ps She's not got back to me. I'll chase her again (unless you've had a parcel?)

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I'm guessing, then, that Robbins' 2006 essay in Haig's Generals may have prompted the coming to light of some of the letters from Horne to his wife which he'd declared destroyed, which in turn may have prompted the writing of the full biography announced in June 2007. Either that or he's bagged a grant for cataloguing non-existent papers and is squandering it in the Lambeth Walk or some other local boozer as we speak.

A parcel you say? I'm intrigued! Whatever can it be? Actually I've not been in today but shall check the mail first thing in the morning.

Best,

George

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That parcel Bryn - you did remember to put a stamp on it didn't you? :unsure:

Best,

George

George,

How quaint that you imagine I do this sort of thing myself! Of course, it's much easier to get one of one's people to do it for one.

My young lady informs me that the parcel has been despatched. I have no reason to doubt her.

Bryn

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Sorry - I'd forgotten your eminence there for a moment and that you had people 'to do' for you. But due to tardiness of despatch, you may need to consider degumming your young lady, though. An " 'Oratia, you're for 'ome" type of scenario.......

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Sorry - I'd forgotten your eminence there for a moment and that you had people 'to do' for you. But due to tardiness of despatch, you may need to consider degumming your young lady, though. An " 'Oratia, you're for 'ome" type of scenario.......

She shook my hand and smiled so sweetly as she told me the news, that I didn't have the heart.

I fear I am destined never to exercise high command. I don't have the streak of ruthlessness others possess.

Speaking of ruthlessness (and to avoid the accusation of Skindle-ifying this thread), care to comment on which of these two gents was the most ruthless?

Bryn

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Ruthless? Horne or Plumer? Horne. Horne was respected but not greatly liked by those who served under him. Plumer was adored.

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Plumer was also very punctilious. He demanded all the courtesies be observed. I don't believe any military commander of Plumer's ability would lack iron. He is reputed to have prayed on his knees the night before Messines. Another two commanders who sought and believed they were in receipt of Divine guidance, were Haig and Oliver Cromwell. Neither have been accused of lacking the ability to be ruthless when required.

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Agree with all you say Tom - all of these men by necessity were able to apply a degree of ruthlessness to the business of directing men to kill (and be killed) which would make the average civilian blanch. Yet amongst their own peers some were clearly more ruthless in nature than others - though perhaps it could be argued that some were just more overtly so.

Bryn, all joking aside I received a "surprise" parcel today containing your 'Cambrai 1917' which I am really looking forward to making a start on this weekend - many thanks indeed, it's much appreciated. Your generosity means I've got this excellent looking book and the kids will still get to eat this week. I'll certainly take the time to review it here, and from glancing through it I've little doubt that it will be as favourable as Pete's take on it. I do hope this confirmation of delivery reaches you in time to prevent your young lady who 'does' from being SAD............

Best,

George

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...

Bryn, all joking aside I received a "surprise" parcel today containing your 'Cambrai 1917' which I am really looking forward to making a start on this weekend - many thanks indeed, it's much appreciated. Your generosity means I've got this excellent looking book and the kids will still get to eat this week. I'll certainly take the time to review it here, and from glancing through it I've little doubt that it will be as favourable as Pete's take on it. I do hope this confirmation of delivery reaches you in time to prevent your young lady who 'does' from being SAD............

Best,

George

George

Consider yourself lucky. The publishers seem to be indicating they won't be printing more hardbacks and have pretty much sold out of what they have. So, what's in the shops and what I have to bring to talks (which is considerably less than I hoped and needed) may be all the hardbacks there are available. The paperback's not out until November 2009.

Still, an honest review will be welcome and I have little doubt from your posts you'll be honest!

Bryn

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Speaking of ruthlessness (and to avoid the accusation of Skindle-ifying this thread), care to comment on which of these two gents was the most ruthless?

Bryn

Bryn

Your lack of "real" upper class education is showing through - it should be "...which of these two gents was the more ruthless?" Given you are only comparing two people the comparative sense should be used.

You must have been the despair of your English teachers and bring tears to the eyes of your editors!

Propino tibi salutem!

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Bryn

Your lack of "real" upper class education is showing through - it should be "...which of these two gents was the more ruthless?" Given you are only comparing two people the comparative sense should be used.

You must have been the despair of your English teachers and bring tears to the eyes of your editors!

Propino tibi salutem!

Oh, 'Captain'! My Captain!

I not only lack a real upper class education but I also lack real class.

I was a grammar school boy whose school went 'comp' midway through my time there. Our school motto was Semper Eadem. Hardly inspiring. However, since my focus should always be nil satis nisi optimum, I am grateful for your keen interjection.

Peter? Alan? What's that expression used at our place of employment to do with rats?

Bryn

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I was a grammar school boy whose school went 'comp' midway through my time there. Our school motto was Semper Eadem. Hardly inspiring. However, since my focus should always be nil satis nisi optimum, I am grateful for your keen interjection.

Given that the former was the motto of Elizabeth I of England (and one also associated with Anne Boleyn), you should live up to that Everton mob.

Peter? Alan? What's that expression used at our place of employment to do with rats?

Bryn

"Apudne te vel me?" or perhaps "Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit!" Maybe even "Id est mihi, id non est tibi!" ??? I know not of your preferences.....

Absit invidia.

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Given that the former was the motto of Elizabeth I of England (and one also associated with Anne Boleyn), you should live up to that Everton mob.

"Apudne te vel me?" or perhaps "Di! Ecce hora! Uxor mea me necabit!" Maybe even "Id est mihi, id non est tibi!" ??? I know not of your preferences.....

Absit invidia.

Tu bene dicis. Ego contra erravi. Mihi, quaeso, ignosce.

Vale!

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I am most impressed by this sudden outbreak of Latin - which one of is the real Boris? I exclude Fra Cave, who I know to be real, and not merely a Boris beard.

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Tu bene dicis. Ego contra erravi. Mihi, quaeso, ignosce.

Vale!

Bryn,

I can't believe you meant to say that a member of the GWF has tu dicis! What were you thinking of?

Pete

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i am sure its all a case of nil nisi bonum.

Keith

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